Italy’s premier to get lavish new set of wings

Italy's premier to get lavish new set of wings
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is to be given a new and improved state aircraft. Photo: John Thys Pool/AFP
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is to be given a new set of wings next month, costing up to €1 million a month to lease, as the government has decided that the current jet is too small and outdated for a modern head of government.

For years the Italian leader has had to put up with having one of the smallest planes among the G8 – the Airbus A319.

The plane has the considerable drawback that it needs to stop every five hours on long journeys to be refuelled.

Reports in Corriere Della Sera this weekend, unconfirmed by government sources, suggest that the new aircraft will be an Airbus A330 – a plane twice as big as the A319 with a market value of €175 million.

The Italian government will not be buying its new craft, but leasing it. The cost of leasing an A330 ranges between €400 million and €1 million per month, and the previous jet will be sold off to help cover the expense.

The A330 is capable of flying much longer distances and only needs refuelling every 15 hours. A commercial A330 has space for 300 seats, but Renzi's new “Air Force One” will be equipped with a double en-suite bedroom, a meeting room and work tables for the premier and his staff.

The decision to change the jet was made by Renzi's predecessor, Enrico Letta – but the current prime minister is looking forward to his new mode of transport.

When asked about it on a recent diplomatic visit to Ethiopia, Renzi said: “It will be much more technological than the current plane and will be connected to the internet.”

It is thought that the first trip Renzi will make in his new jet will be when he visits Latin America next month.

The extra space afforded by the A330 will also allow Italian premiers to take journalists with them when they travel – something that was difficult with the less spacious A319.

Former premier Mario Monti reportedly invited some journalists on board during a short trip from China to Japan – but was irked to find one nosey journalist photographing the presidential suite on board.

However, Monti used to make the most of the A319's short range by using refuelling stops as an opportunity to make flying diplomatic visits.

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