Mexico's new plan to sell presidential jet: a raffle


Mexico City (AFP)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has been struggling to find a buyer for what he considers the overly luxurious presidential jet, proposed a novel idea Friday: hold a raffle.

The leftist austerity crusader has been vowing to sell the Boeing Dreamliner since his 2018 election campaign, saying "not even Donald Trump has a plane like that."

But it turns out it is not so easy to find a buyer for a massive jet customized with an executive bedroom, private bath, seating for 80 people and valued at $130 million.

The few prospective buyers so far have all fallen through, leaving the government to search for creative ideas to offload the plane.

Speaking at his daily news conference, Lopez Obrador proposed selling six million raffle tickets at a cost of 500 pesos each (about $25) and awarding the plane to one lucky winner.

"That would give us (about $150 million), and we'd give the plane to the winner with a year or two of operating services," he said.

The proposal soon became a trending topic on Twitter, as Mexicans spread memes with edited pictures of themselves flying the plane to work or the convenience store.

Lopez Obrador said the government was also considering four other options: barter with the US government to give it the plane in exchange for medical equipment; rent it; sell it to a group of 12 Mexican business executives, including the telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim; or accept an existing offer of $125 million from a buyer in the United States.

"I'm just mentioning options.... The people will decide what's best," he said.

Mexico announced this week it would fly the plane back to Mexico from a hangar in California, after failing to find a buyer in the United States.

The Boeing 787-8 was purchased for about $218 million under former president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012).

Lopez Obrador wants to use proceeds from the sale to buy medical equipment for the public health system.