Air Force One is luxurious

Luxury planes for heads of stateHow decadent Heads of government to travel

Putin flies with a golden toilet seat and Trump with a billion-dollar aircraft. Some heads of government afford plenty of luxury.

Which head of government flies the most expensive aircraft? Right: US President Trump! Deutschlandfunk-Nova reporter Timo Nicolas has found no more expensive government plane than Trump's. "But whether any prince in Saudi Arabia owns an even more expensive aircraft, I don't know. Democracies only have to disclose the prices," says Timo.

In any case, Trump has had a really good time and bought two new Air Force One machines for 3.9 billion dollars and - who is surprised - they should no longer be in light blue in the future, but in the US colors red and white and be painted blue.

Putin travels with gold decorations

Russian President Putin also flies expensive - but far behind. There are a few pictures of the inner workings of his aircraft that provide clues as to why the aircraft costs an estimated 500 million euros: Everywhere in the Ilyushin IL-96 is gold. On the king-size bed, in the hallways of the conference room, on the buckles of the white leather sofas - even the toilet seat is gold-plated. Sounds decadent, it certainly is, but the execution is definitely also a matter of taste ... at least from the inside. From the outside, the machine is extremely inconspicuous.

Incidentally, Putin can afford four government planes. As soon as it becomes known that the Russian president is going to visit abroad, all the machines get ready - which one he gets into remains top secret until the end.

Technology makes presidential machines so expensive

But it's not just the interior that makes the price so high. The technical inner workings of the presidential machines are much more expensive. Deutschlandfunk-Nova reporter Timo Nicolas says Donald Trump could wage a nuclear war from his Air Force One.

"The costs of Putin's and Trump's planes are so high because they are flying command centers from which, in case of doubt, a war could be waged."
Timo Nicolas, Deutschlandfunk-Nova reporter, on the reasons for the high costs of presidential aircraft

The Chinese head of state Xi Jinping flies relatively modestly. For long-distance trips he is also on the road with a Boing 747, which, however, unlike the USA, is a completely normal airliner from the Air China line. Of course, there are no tourists in the back of economy class, no, the planes - and that is Xi Jinping's luxury - are extensively converted beforehand.

"As soon as it says: The president has to go abroad, the scheduled flight will be rebuilt for about a month. Sofas, beds and a study will be installed."
Timo Nicolas, Deutschlandfunk Nova reporter

The Chinese head of state apparently thinks it safer to use a plane that is regularly in use. The reason is bad experiences. In 2001 China wanted to buy its own presidential plane, but nothing came of it. They bought the plane in the USA and had it lavishly equipped with VIP equipment, but in the end there were 27 hidden listening devices in it, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Chancellor Merkel flies with missile defense

The German Chancellor does it differently. Angela Merkel and her ministers fly with the Bundeswehr ready to fly - with the so-called White Fleet. This includes two large Airbus A340 chancellor aircraft.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's interior design is hardly surprising - it is chic but functional with a shower, pull-out beds and a conference room. For this, the aircraft has its own missile defense.

Denmark keeps it even simpler. The country has only three small Challenger planes for the top government - these are business jets with a manageable space. And when there is no member of the government on the way, the planes monitor whether fishermen in the North Sea are observing their fishing zones.

Anyone interested in government aircraft can find further information in the book "Government aircraft: This is how heads of state" by Andreas Hofmann.

You can find other similar topics here at Deutschlandfunk Nova: