Your aeroplane, Prime Minister

So this is the £980k paint job painted on to an Airbus A330, which as I understand it is assembled in France, fitted out in Spain and powered by Rolls Royce engines – a pretty good example of European cooperation in fact!

And it seems likely that all the British wing assembly will not survive a no deal Brexit and even with a deal Airbus wing manufacure is rumoured to be due to be transferred to Germany.

It seems to be a fitting successor to another bus that Johnson was involved with, the Borismaster bus whose iconic rear platforms so trumpeted by Johnson are now permanently closed off to boarders.

These well thought through ideas just keep on coming….


  1. Andrew -

    As I understand it, this aircraft is one of 14 procured under a £13 billion 27-year PFI deal signed with AirTanker (led by EADS, with Cobham, Rolls-Royce, Thales and VT Group) in 2008, following a procurement process that lasted over four years. The aim was to use these Airbus 330-200 variants for in-flight refuelling and transport of military cargo and personnel (replacing aged TriStars and VC10s). I think the £13 billion that is about £35m per aircraft per year already.

    When one was refitted for VIP service in 2015, it was said that the £10m additional one-off cost (on top of the continuing £35m per year, of course) would “save” about £775k per year compared to charter flights. If that is right – has anyone checked? – it might have “saved” about £3.5m to £4m already And now we are spending another £900k on an unnecessary paint job.

    it would be interesting to know how much use this aircraft actually gets – I’ve seen reports that it is used to transport government delegations just a handful of times per year – and how much each use actually costs, compared to the alternatives, including the ongoing annual cost that has to be paid anyway. I’m sure the government will want to be sure it is getting value for money.

    1. Peter May -

      Value for money is, of course, absolutely essential when you create the stuff!

      But I’m sure you’re basically right – and I suspect BA who have something pretty close to a Union flag on their tailplanes – are not exactly short of spare aircraft which they are just itching to hire out for any spot contract!
      I’m afraid I consider this paint job is part of yet more pointless bombast and jingoism.

      1. Andrew -

        Well, to be fair, I have heard the £900k figure was the overall cost of the aircraft’s recent “D check” (heavy maintenance, taking much of it to bits and putting it back together) and it would have needed to be repainted anyway: the painting would be perhaps £100k to £200k.

        But then I have also heard it suggested that, from one side, the Union Jack on the tailplane looks upside down (as the diagonal red stripes appear to be misplaced).

        Yes, I am sure BA has a few furloughed Airbuses that could be borrowed at mates rates.

  2. Peter May -

    Apparently the Union Jack wrong way up – I never know – is accounted for by aircraft convention of the tail always being the pole (I think)!.
    Didn’t know that the paint job was only £1-200k – but I cannot imagine it will be an ideal in service RAF plane adorned as it now is in ostentatious red white and blue!
    I think it will called a target- which I cannot resist – would, I suppose, be no bad thing if the current PM were in it….

    1. Andrew -

      There is probably a good reason it was painted grey in the first place. Apparently it can quickly be repainted (again) if necessary…

      But on the cost of the aircraft, BBC Newsnight looked at the high cost of the PFI deal some years ago, claiming that the 27-year contract was based on a price of £150m each when they could be bought outright for just £50m.

      1. Peter May -

        Oh dear and the PFI looks like Labour’s…
        And complete madness…

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