High-altitude double (bed) mistake

Take the inability of the Israeli government to take some decisions, add the lack of sensitivity of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and the harsh new steps taken only last week to fill the hole in the country’s budget – and you get a scandal that rocked the country

This is exactly what happened when Netanyahu flew to England for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher .

Despite the fact that a flight to London takes only about five hours, the prime minister’s office demanded a sleeping cabin with a double bed be installed on the plane.

The only Israeli airline with widebodies is EL Al, and so the cabin was installed and EL AL received  500,000 New Israeli shekels (NIS) – some $140,000.

This is not the first time Netanyahu showed he is not sensitive enough. In 2010 and 2011 he flew to European destinations and the demands were similar.

The prime minister’s office said yesterday that Netanyahu had no idea how much this effort cost, and put out a “comprehensive and unambiguous” order not to do so again on short flights.

Meanwhile, despite recommendations beginning in 2009 from the Israeli general security service, the finance ministry, transportation ministry and an independent consulting firm to buy the prime minister a private plane and save millions annually, Israel still doesn’t have its equivalent of Air Force One.

All this uproar could have been prevented if the government acted according to the clear-cut recommendations.

A finance ministry calculation shows that such an aircraft will have a price tag of NIS100 million, plus approximately NIS5 million in maintenance each year. The investment is expected to pay for itself within five years.

The Israeli ministry of finance has issued a request for information and started the process of selecting a dedicated VIP aircraft to fly the Israeli president and prime minister to visits in foreign countries.

The RFI includes three options: a dedicated aircraft for these official flights, a dual-use aircraft that will be operated by an airliner between official flights and a long term agreement with an airline, which will be committed to adapting one of its aircraft to the required configuration at short notice.

The RFI includes an option to use a dual-use aircraft that will be operated by the Israeli air force.

None of the options included in the RFI have been implemented, however, and the next scandal is always on the horizon.

, , ,

Leave a Reply