Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and António Costa
Reports say the jet will transport Portugal's movers and shakers in a "rapid and dignified way". Image: Lusa

Marcelo and Costa to fly in drug jet

State takes possession of Falcon 900 discovered packed with cocaine

When the country’s leading tabloid carries with a headline running “Government flies in drug plane” – and television channels develop the theme to “Marcelo and Costa to fly in a plane used for drug trafficking”, you know it’s a slow news day.

But just as the tragic road death of a motorway maintenance worker exposed the fact that ministers can drive around in BMWs confiscated from drug dealers, it now transpires that bankrupt airlines commandeered by drug traffickers can also pay off their debts by offloading assets to the State: in this case, the Falcon 900 jet discovered stuffed with 500 kilos of cocaine in 2021 when it was due to fly a number of football personalities from Brazil to Portugal.

According to reports today, the plane is “already in the hands of the State and ready to enter the service of the Air Force”.

Correio da Manhã suggests the plane will be a boon: “It is a Falcon 900B – capable of transporting 18 people, double the capacity of the Falcon 50s that make up the 504 Lynx Squadron”.

The deal has allowed Omni Aviacão e Tecnologia clear €4.2 million from its €17 million debt to Parvalorem, one of the companies that inherited toxic debt from the BPN banking collapse.

Acquisition of the plane was negotiated between the ministries of finance and defence, says CM, and Parvalorem.

“The operation had two objectives: to resolve operational difficulties of the Air Force with the transport of leading State figures (like the president of the republic, the parliamentary speaker, the prime minister and other members of government), and allow the repayment of part of Omni’s debt to Parvalorem”.

Interest in the purchase followed shortly after the plane’s seizure in 2021.

A source for the Air Force tells reporters that the plane here and ‘ready to go’ and will shortly be integrated within 504 Squadron, used mostly by President Marcelo.

“Beyond transporting in a rapid and dignified way leading figures of the nation, as they represent the Portuguese State in any part of the world” the plane will be used for “various missions, from the transport of patients to organs for transplantation purposes”.

CM adds that 504 Squadron has been under pressure: its three Falcon 50s are more than 30 years old, and one has been ‘out of commission’ for over a year.

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