Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Lack of funds grounds municipality’s chopper; 2 states to sell their aircraft

A helicopter purchased by a México state municipality last year to bolster security hasn’t flown for two months due to a lack of funds to pay for fuel and maintenance.

The former mayor of Naucalpan, Édgar Olvera, announced on March 23, 2017 the acquisition of a 1993-model Bell 206 helicopter for 24 million pesos (US $1.26 million at today’s exchange rate).

The purchase of the helicopter — formerly owned by police in California, United States — was “an investment in security,” Olvera said at the time.

But now it’s been grounded.

Interim Mayor Víctor Gálvez Astorga says there is no money to pay for the aircraft’s operational and maintenance costs, which have ranged between 900,000 and 1 million pesos (US $47,300 – $52,600) per month.

The municipality, located in the metropolitan area of greater Mexico City, has faced an economic crisis ever since Olvera left office in January, leaving significant debts.

Local sources told the newspaper El Universal that “there is no money for fuel and the stand-in mayor is seeking to sell it.”

The helicopter, dubbed Águila 1 (Eagle 1), racked up over 383 hours of flight time in its first 11 months in operation, according to a municipal councilor, but it hasn’t taken to the skies since July 1.

There are also reports that municipal police in Naucalpan lack the security equipment needed to do their job properly and that police cars are allocated rations of just 10 liters of fuel per day.

Meanwhile, the future Morena party governors of Veracruz and Tabasco have announced that they intend to sell state-owned aircraft once they take office as part of their respective austerity plans.

Like president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador — Morena’s founder, Cuitláhuac García Jiménez and Adán Augusto López Hernández intend to forgo private air travel in favor of commercial flights or land transport.

López Obrador has said that selling the luxurious Dreamliner 787 presidential plane will be a priority after he is sworn in on December 1 and was not deterred by a nearly five-hour delay to his flight from Huatulco, Oaxaca, to Mexico City last week.

García, governor-elect of Veracruz, said the state government has a fleet of eight aircraft and that if they are not being used for the common good, such as one operated by Civil Protection services, they will be sold, although he added that one could be donated to the Red Cross or the Secretariat of Public Security.

López, governor-elect of Tabasco, said that he intends to sell the state’s fleet of three aircraft and that he will also stop renting the hangar space where the planes are housed.

García, like López Obrador, will be sworn in on December 1 but López won’t assume office until January 1, 2019.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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