Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a private jet worth around $500 million from Qatar‘s emir, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani. The aircraft reportedly donated the Boeing 747-8i to the president after hearing that Turkey was interested in buying it. The gift comes after a year in which Turkey has supported Qatar in a stand-off with other Arab states.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain ended diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar over its ties to Iran and its alleged support for jihadists, which the country denies. Turkey donated food to prevent shortages in Qatar‘s supermarkets after its land border was closed and ships were banned from many ports.
The Boeing 747-8i has been described as “the largest and most expensive private jet in the world.” The aircraft was delivered to Qatar in 2015, after being refitted to carry 76 passengers, rather than 400. The cabin has a total area of 5,179 square feet, which can be reconfigured as the owner wishes. The Boeing 747-8i‘s cabin is usually split into different sections including a boardroom, lounge, VIP bedrooms, and a staff area.
Erdogan told reporters last week that Qatar‘s emir gave the plane as a gift after learning that Turkey had an interest in it.
“I won’t take money from Turkey. I give this as a present to Turkey“, the president quoted Sheikh Hamad as saying.
The plane is currently being repainted. “God willing, we can have a trip with it when all is over,” Erdogan said.
Last month, Qatar‘s emir approved a package of financial aid worth $15 billion to support Turkey’s economy and currency. The Turkish lira has lost nearly 40% of its value against the dollar this year, driven by concerns about Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy and a diplomatic dispute with the United States.
The widebody, features a master stateroom, a deck lounge for 14 passengers, a conference room, guest bedroom, a medical room, and multiple bathrooms.
Fleets Analyzer lists the BBJ 747-8I – manufactured in 2012 and powered by GE Aviation GEnx-2B engines – as entering service in early 2015. It had a Bermuda registration, VQ-BSK and logged only 200 cycles, covering 436h, to March 27 this year. The 747-8I joins Turkey’s 12-strong VIP fleet, which includes an Airbus ACJ340, ACJ330, ACJ318, a pair of ACJ319s, a Bombardier CRJ200, four Gulfstream G550s, a G450, and a GIV. The aircraft has a capacity for 59,567 gallons of fuel.
Boeing says it has delivered 45 BBJ 747s worldwide, of which 11 examples are the -8 variant.
The 747-8 has been selected as the replacement aircraft for the 89th Airlift Wing of the United States Air Force – the plane the president uses – commonly known as Air Force One. Operating a BBJ 747-8 costs an estimated $23,000 an hour