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World News

Mexican president says offer on table for predecessor's luxury jet

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he has received an offer for his predecessor’s luxury jet, which officials have struggled to sell for nearly two years.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds the national flag as he shouts the "Cry of Independence" with his wife Beatriz Gutierrez Muller as Mexico marks its 210th anniversary of independence from Spain, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, September 15, 2020. Picture taken September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files

The leftist president put the Boeing 787 Dreamliner up for sale shortly after taking office in December 2018, condemning the customized aircraft as an out-of-touch symbol of excess, yet bids failed to meet the $130 million valuation.

Lopez Obrador did not provide details of the offer, but said the government expected to receive 2 million pesos ($95.46 million) “once the plane is sold.”

“Fortunately, there is an acquisition proposal. We’re waiting on a new appraisal, and it’s very likely that the plane gets sold,” Lopez Obrador told his daily news conference.

Last January, Lopez Obrador rejected an offer for $125 million and floated the idea of raffling the plane as an alternative way of generating funds for public coffers.

Instead, he opted for a lottery that would raise money for hospital supplies, with the prize money loosely representing the plane’s value at 2 billion pesos.

The effort raised 2.34 billion pesos ($111.68 million) with 78% of tickets sold, enough to cover the prize money but short of Lopez Obrador’s goal of 3 billion pesos.

Mexico’s federal Institute of Health for Wellness (Insabi) had purchased nearly $24 million worth of tickets on behalf of hospitals nationwide, and won $12.46 million. It was also allowed to claim the prize money from winning tickets that had not been sold, amounting to another $23 million.

Despite criticism that the lottery was a flawed initiative to fund needy hospitals, Lopez Obrador deemed it a success and said he was considering hosting another next year.

($1 = 20.8677 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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