MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday proposed handing over the opulent presidential plane, which he inherited from his predecessors and failed to sell as promised, to a planned military-run airline, where it could be rented to workers.
Lopez Obrador, who has an austere approach to spending, has cast the luxury Boeing 787 Dreamliner as a symbol of the excesses of previous governments and since campaigning for office had vowed to sell it. But finding a buyer willing to pay its $130 million price tag has proved challenging.
"The plane will be handed over to Mexicana de Aviacion for special trips," he told a news conference in the southern Yucatan peninsula, saying it would be available to rent for workers of the new airline for trips around Mexico and even to other continents.
"It would be rented in a special way for people who want to take their families, or workers, on trips as a reward for their performance," he said.
Lopez Obrador is planning to create a new airline under the auspices of Olmeca-Maya-Mexica, a military-run business set to run a handful of airports and the multibillion-dollar "Mayan Train" project being built in Yucatan.
Government critics have accused the administration of militarizing society by bringing much of Mexico's infrastructure, as well as its civilian-led national guard, under Army control.
Lopez Obrador told journalists the new airline would be named Mexicana de Aviacion, after Mexico's former flagship airline that filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Mexicana, one of the world's oldest airlines, had operated for close to a century.
He said Mexicana's brand and emblem would need to be valued and acquired to create the new company, "so there will be more flights and air fares will not increase so much."
Mexican authorities are meanwhile working to recover a Category 1 aviation rating from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, after losing it in 2021, preventing local carriers from adding new flights to the United States.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Bill Berkrot)