Italy’s premier to get lavish new set of wings

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month, costing up to €1 million a month to lease, as the government has decided that the current jet is too small and outdated for a modern head of government.

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

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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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?