Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has presented a luxurious Boeing 747-8 as a gift(!) to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a report published on Thursday by Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT Haber.
The 747-8 model VIP Boeing touched down in İstanbul on Wednesday morning. The arrival of another highly visible and obviously expensive addition to the fleet raised criticism from Gamze Taşçıer, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who compared the 400 million dollar, seven-bedroom and two-reception hall plane to a “flying palace.”
“The presidential palace calls on the people of Turkey to save on almost daily basis. But the same people who call for belt-tightening measures cannot give up on luxury and ostentation,” said Taşçıer in a written claim forwarded to Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay.
The arrival of the jet came not long after Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Turkish Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak announced savings measures to be implemented on the Turkish state’s massive roster of vehicles for use by public officials.
The VIP 747-8 plane will take its place among the 11 other state jets in the fleet, which also boasts three helicopters. One of these jets, an Airbus A340 VIP, was formerly owned by deposed Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and bought by Turkey for $78 million in 2016.
While the jet’s arrival has drawn criticism of the government for its expenditure, reports have emerged that it was presented to Erdoğan as a gift from Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.
Turkish news site Kokpit.aero reported the Qatari Sheikh presented it as a gift to demonstrate his “love for Erdoğan and trust for Turkey” after the Turkish President Erdoğan showed an interest in the aircraft, which was on sale for an asking price of around $400 million just three years after being delivered to Qatar in 2015. Kokpit.aero did not provide information on the source of this report.