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Luxurious plane will be returned to Mexico after a year on sale in the US where it piled up $1.5m in maintenance costs

The president of Mexico, Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador, has made selling off the luxurious presidential jet a centerpiece of his austerity program, but theres just one problem: nobody wants to buy the white elephant.

Lpez Obrador said on Tuesday the Boeing Dreamliner will be returned to Mexico after a year on sale in the United States, where it piled up about $1.5m in maintenance costs.

Bought by his predecessor Enrique Pea Nieto, the jet was reconfigured to carry only 80 people albeit with a full presidential suite with a bedroom and private bath. Lpez Obrador said potential buyers had been unable to obtain financing for the purchase.

Among the ideas Lpez Obrador is now entertaining to sell it to a consortium of companies for executive incentive programs, rent it out or barter it for needed goods.

Gone are the hopes it would raise a lot of money for anti-poverty programs. Mexico is now just hoping to cut its losses on the plane, which is too expensive to reconfigure back into a commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 passengers.

Lopez Obrador, who has opted to fly tourist class on regular commercial flights and eschew travel abroad, has long railed against perks provided for public servants.

The president has also forbidden his cabinet from taking trips in government-owned executive jets, and on Tuesday he also announced a series of auctions that will sell off a total of 39 government-owned helicopters and 33 executive jets and small planes.

The government is offering 19 planes and nine helicopters for sale in a first round of auctions, which it hopes will raise over $1bn. Most of the aircraft in the first lot were used by the army, navy and presidents office.

Many of the planes to auctioned off in later rounds belonged to the attorney generals office, raising the question of whether the sales could threaten key governmental tasks such as law enforcement in drug detection and eradication programs.

Lpez Obrador said there would still be enough aircraft to carry out needed tasks in disasters and emergencies.

Despite his distaste for high living, it is precisely as a business perk that the president hopes to sell off the presidential jet. Lpez Obrador proudly showed off a brochure he had drawn up in a somewhat desperate-sounding sales pitch for the craft.

You, you biggest producers, your elite sales team, your most prized associates can now enjoy a reserved flight experience until now only available to heads of state, the brochure reads, adding the plane has incomparable VIP capacity.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/14/mexico-president-presidential-jet-nobody-wants-to-buy