(Photo / Eurokinissi)
By Paris Karvounopoulos
The revelation by Data Journalists regarding the secret flight of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis from The Hague to Paris was met with silence from the government. Whether it is “guilty” remains to be seen…
The “tracking” of the flight seems to have bothered the government to the extent that it “locked” its movements on the flight radar platform.
After the flight to Paris, there was information that another “secret flight” of the prime minister’s aircraft took place on the day of the funeral of police officer G. Lyngeridis in Thessaloniki. The Prime Minister attended the funeral, and the circulating information suggested that after Thessaloniki, he flew “in an unknown direction.” Searching for the flight details of the prime minister’s aircraft, the indication that appeared was this:
There is therefore no confirmation of an unknown flight, but many link this information with the news reported by Albanian media about a secret meeting between Mitsotakis and Rama regarding the imprisoned mayor of Himarra, Freddy Beleris.
Apparently, each prime minister can undertake “secret missions” related to “national reasons”. The flight to Paris, where the aircraft stayed at Le Bourget for just 25 minutes, doesn’t seem to have these characteristics. The government’s decision to “erase” the VIP aircraft FALCON from the flight tracking platform is curious. And it’s not the first time they’ve reacted this way to VIP flights.
When in September 2021 it was revealed that among the 22 passengers on the VIP aircraft transporting the prime ministerial delegation to Thessaloniki was also the communications advisor Stan Greenberg, the government’s reaction was not only paradoxical but also illegal. After the news was made public, the Maximos Mansion stopped sending named passenger lists for the VIP aircraft and now only provides the number of individuals boarding the flight. This is clearly outside the established procedure.
Despite Greece facing significant economic problems that have a tremendous impact on the availability of aerial assets for the Armed Forces, it manages to maintain almost 100% availability of its three VIP aircraft. It is impressive, considering the extensive flight hours logged by these three VIP aircraft. The Prime Minister and ministers prefer them so much that the procurement of another Falcon aircraft is deemed necessary, as revealed by Data Journalists.
The excessive use of VIP aircraft is unfortunately a very common phenomenon. They are used even when not necessary, and it is certainly wasteful. An indicative case is that of Nikos Hardalias during the period he was Deputy Minister of National Defense. One of the VIP aircraft at our disposal flew from Elefsina to Sofia, picked up the Deputy Minister, took him to Thessaloniki, and returned empty to Elefsina. The possibility of traveling by road from Sofia to Thessaloniki seems not to have been considered by Nikos Hardalias’ staff. This is not the only case of excess. The Prime Minister used a VIP aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force at least 7 times during the last electoral period.
The cost of maintaining three VIP aircraft is excessive for Greece. 1.5 million euros for crew training alone – 8 people – for the next three years.
Just the maintenance of the last VIP aircraft that we acquired for EUR 22 million is costing a lot. According to the four-year contract for the provision of services for the “Continued Support (CS) of the Air Force Falcon 7X S/N 273 aircraft, the cost is 13,352,853.00. How do leaders of other countries fly, some will wonder. In the photo, the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, is in the “standard” seat of the commercial flight in which he flew to Madrid and the NATO summit.