These aircraft have the vital role of transporting the world’s most powerful people through the skies.
So it’s no wonder they’re equipped with a mind-boggling array of advanced features – and cost an arm and a leg.
From Theresa May‘s VIP A330 to the £1.2billion fleet belonging to the Emir of Qatar and Donald Trump‘s £780million 747 (that has its own operating theatre) to Angela Merkel‘s £235million A340, scroll down to find out more about the private jets that shield presidents and prime ministers as their travel the globe.
Theresa May, Airbus A330, £195million
The specially-adapted Airbus A330 houses a small VIP area with two ottoman chairs located in the front part, and if desired, sliding curtains can be closed to offer the Prime Minister privacy from the rest of the delegation
Recently, the 32nd squadron of the United Kingdom acquired its own Airbus A330 for £195million. The main purpose of the new airliner is to carry Prime Minister Theresa May on official government trips. This change resulted in savings up to around £1.5million on private plane charters.
May’s aircraft is modest in terms of the materials used and the cabin configuration. A small VIP area with two ottoman chairs is located in the front part, and if desired, sliding curtains can be closed to offer some privacy from the rest of the delegation.
The main body of the aircraft cabin is occupied by 58 business class seats created for the accommodation of ministers and their deputies. The tail portion is occupied by 100 economy class seats for journalists.
Donald Trump, Air Force One, £780million
Air Force One is equipped with a medical suite that acts as a fully functional operating room should the president require emergency surgery
Air Force One is the name of any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the president of the US at any time. Donald Trump relies primarily on two identical customized planes, both heavily modified Boeing 747-200B models.
Air Force One has a number of secure communication channels and security systems to protect from standard attacks, as well as any unusual occurrences such as targeted electromagnetic impulses. One is also equipped with a medical suite that acts as a fully functional operating room.
Trump has substantial living space on board. With a cabin area of nearly 4,000-sq-ft, accommodations include a bedroom, bathroom, gym and offices. It also has personal space for each of his accompanying retinue members. Higher ranks have separate offices at their disposal, while others have a place to work and to rest.
There is a separate area for the accompanying news reporters. Altogether, the presidential aircraft is capable of comfortably accommodating 70 passengers and 26 members of the crew.
Vladimir Putin, IL-96-300PU, £390million
The government installed an advanced communication system on board Putin’s aircraft that allows it to act as a management centre capable of carrying out the prompt commandment of troops in case of unexpected conflict
Vladimir Putin’s flagship aircraft is a wide-bodied, long-haul airliner that is easily distinguishable from the passenger model by its extended fuselage fairing.
The government installed an advanced communication system on board that allows the aircraft to act as a management centre capable of carrying out the prompt commandment of troops in case of unexpected conflict.
While the exterior of the aircraft looks largely the same as the basic model, the cabin is lavishly decorated with tapestries and gold accents. The furniture and interior décor are finished in the neoclassical style, and the planes are equipped with a spacious office, a bedroom and a fully-equipped gym.
The presidential air squad is comprised of four of the president‘s first-choice aircraft rather than one. This is not a case of reliability, but one of security. As soon as knowledge of an international flight is public, all four aircraft are readied for departure. The specific plane to be used by Vladimir Putin is not known until take-off.
After the choice is made, either one or all three of the remaining planes follow the president as the reserve. In total, the air squad’s fleet is made up of 68 planes – 64 of them are utilised, while the remaining four are kept in storage.
Angela Merkel, Konrad Adenauer, £235million
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s aircraft boasts apartments with showers, bedrooms, offices, a conference hall with video communication equipment and a completely soundproof room for negotiations
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most famous aircraft is an Airbus A340-313X VIP, also referred to as the ‘Konrad Adenauer’ after the first post-war Chancellor of Germany. In addition to the Konrad, Chancellor Merkel has several other planes at her disposal, all managed by the German armed forces.
The Airbus A340-313X VIPs can accommodate approximately 150 passengers each. There are apartments with showers, bedrooms, offices, a conference hall with video communication equipment and a completely soundproof room for negotiations.
The air fleet also boasts missile defence systems, as well as additional fuel tanks, allowing for non-stop flights up to 8,390 miles. This impressive range is enough to get from Berlin to Washington, Beijing or Rio de Janeiro.
Queen Elizabeth II, No. 32nd Squadron, £77.5million
The Queen and other members of the Royal family rely upon the 32nd squadron of the United Kingdom for transportation, as revealed by the UK-based Air Charter Service.
These include two AW109 helicopters for travelling distances under 620 miles, six BAE-125 planes with a flight range of up to 1,860 miles, as well as four mid-sized reactive BAE-146 planes that are used primarily on the territory of the UK.
Until recently, the Royal Family leased ordinary Boeing 747s or Boeing 777s from British Airways or Virgin Atlantic airways for travelling long distances. Currently, the Queen and her family members can be transported for important events by the planes and helicopters of the Royal Air Force.
Emir of Qatar, fleet of Airbus and Boeings, £1.2billion
The Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. As such, he is the owner of a truly spectacular air fleet used by numerous members of his royal family.
On official trips, he is accompanied by an entourage of at least 1,000 people. The weight of the carried cargo is measured in tonnes, and consists not only of various personal items for the Emir, but even limousines to be used by him in the destination country.
The individual transportation of the head of the government, however, including his family members and higher government officials, is carried out by a separate VIP airline, Qatar Amiri Flight, set up in 1977.
Francois Hollande, Airbus A330-200, £210million
The former French president’s Airbus A330-200 has a bedroom with a large bed, a bathroom, a dressing room, a kitchen, an office, a soundproof negotiation room for 12 people, a mini operating room, as well as a space designated for journalists and members of the delegation accompanying him.
Prior to 2010, leaders of France used an Airbus A319 for official air travel. However, in 2009 an incident occurred with one of the planes.
Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France at the time, was leading the representational governmental delegation on a multi-day tour across Africa. Prior to takeoff, the plane was forced to return from the airstrip due to the failure of one of the engines. Although the reserve aircraft’s system worked perfectly throughout the rest of the tour, upon the president’s return to France, the decision was made to sell both of the Airbus A319s.
Xi Jinping, Boeing 747-400, £195million
Unlike his contemporaries, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, does not own a personal aircraft.
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China uses two Boeing 747-400’s belonging to Air China for his government visits and business trips.
Both of the airliners are used for regular passenger flights. However, as soon as the president plans an upcoming foreign visit, the planes are carefully examined by the leader’s security service, which may take up to several weeks.
After the examinations, the aircraft are sent for refitting, during which some of the cabin’s seats are dismantled and replaced with a spacious living room, a bedroom and an office. Specific details of the additional manipulations are not known.
Upon his return, the planes are given back to Air China and restored to their original state to be used for passenger flights again.
Sultan of Brunei, Airbus A340-212, £170m
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, purchased this aircraft, nicknamed the ‘Flying Palace’, for £80million. An additional £95million has been spent on its reconstruction and modernisation, all of which took place in the US.
The aircraft makeover not only added an incredibly luxurious cabin, decorated with precious metals, gems and valuable wood, but also significantly developed its flight features.
Due to the installment of additional fuel tanks, the ultimate non-stop flight range increased to 9,320 miles, whereas the basic model is only 7,767 miles.