PM, Prez to get own planes by early 2020
New Delhi: India’s first set of brand new planes for the prime minister, president and vice-president will be customised and ready for use by early 2020, senior government officials said.
Two Boeing 777-300 ERs, bought by Air India recently, will be retrofitted to have VIP enclosures, a press conference room and a patient transport unit for medical emergencies. The aircraft will also be equipped with Wi-Fi on board and have antimissile protection, a senior official said.
A Boeing 777, unlike the older Boeing 747, which were borrowed from Air India as and when a VVIP visited overseas, can fly non-stop to the US, thereby dispensing with the need to halt for refuelling.
In February and March, Air India inducted three Boeing 777 aircraft, completing an order of 68 planes placed with the aerospace major in 2006. Two of these three planes will be set aside exclusively for VVIP use. “The government will buy these aircraft from Air India,” a senior official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
An aircraft exclusively for VVIPs - such as the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister - will mean that Air India will no more have to ground aircraft from its fleet for special flights and re-configure them to include VIP enclosures, a press conference room etc for these operations.