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King's present a leased aircraft'

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MBABANE – The aircraft given to His Majesty the King as a gift is identified in one official airplane registration website as a leased aircraft.

It is allegedly on lease from SG Air Leasing, a Singaporean company dealing with various types of aircraft on a wide scale.

According to the www.planes-register.com, a popular website for aircraft enthusiasts, the McDonnell Douglas MD-87, was delivered to the country on April 25, 2012.

This website is cited as a database to consult on airline fleets and aircraft history, as well as for research for planes or airlines.

It states that His Majesty King Mswati III is the operator of the McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft.

The registration of the plane is N871SG. It has the serial number 53041  line 1945.

The website also states that the aircraft’s previous owners were Japan Airline Domestic and Japan Air System.Japan Airline Domestic is said to have used it for three years and retired it in 2007.

The plane had been delivered to this company in April 2004 and was registered as JA8372.

It appears that they then sold it to SG Air Leasing who then leased it to a new owner.It was not immediately clear if this meant it had been leased to the Swazi Government or any other party, probably the ‘development partners’ Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini was referring to.

Over the past week, the Times SUNDAY contacted both the PM and SG Air Leasing for clarification.

The Singapore-based company had not responded to questions sent to it via email on Thursday.

The PM’s response was that there was a lot of information being peddled on the internet about the aircraft but government stood by its earlier pos-ition that it was a gift from developmental partners of the kingdom.

According to Dlamini, these development partners have elected to remain anonymous.

Reasons have not been given.

SG Air Leasing is described in various websites as a company responsible for aircraft registrations, sales and leasing.

The website www.planes-register.com states that before Japan Airline Domestic took ownership of the plane, it had been operated by the Japan Air System.

Under this company, the aircraft had been registered as JA8372.

It was delivered to Air Systems on December 12, 1991.

According to the website, the aircraft was inactive for five years, from 2007 until 2012 when it was eventually leased out.

When the Prime Minister announced the gift a fortnight ago, he did not state who the owners were and did not disclose the kind donors who presented the pricey gift to the king. Subsequent information as revealed by the Mail & Guardian (M&G) newspaper stated that the aircraft allegedly flew from London International Airport to Ontario; to Centralia Airport in the United States; to Gander in far eastern Canada; and then south to Miami, Florida, and Guararapes airport in the Brazilian coastal town of Recife.

It reportedly made one further stop in Namibia, Windhoek en route to Swaziland.The MD-87 has a carrying capacity of more than 30 passengers.

Aviation experts place its cost at around US$20 million, which is equivalent to about E157 million.

Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini on Friday said many reports had appeared on the internet about the King’s jet.

"Lesakubika esiveni ngukona kungiko, kute lokushintjako," said the PM in Siswati, meaning: "What remains a fact though is what we announced. That will not change." Asked if he was aware of the contents of the website, the head of government interjected and insisted that what he had told the nation about the jet was factual information, which everyone should believe. "What I announced is the only truth," he said.

The aircraft arrived in the country last month; five days after the King celebrated his birthday in Nhlangano, where he was also showered with various gifts, including a cake from Taiwan, among other presents.


Announcing the gift at a press conference, the PM told the nation that the aircraft would be used by Their Majesties to travel abroad for national engagements.


I can't be the only one who understands that a "gift" from a "development partner" is a bribe.
May 13, 2012, 3:25 PM, velaphi mamba (velaphi@comcast.net)

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