Defence Minister Ron Mark says the New Zealand Defence Force plane that the Prime Minister used is at the “end of [its] life” but replacing it isn’t a priority.
“We could fix the problem overnight if someone gave me a billion dollars or so but right now it’s not the priority,” Mark told the Herald.
His comments come after Jacinda Ardern was stranded in Australia when the NZDF plane broke down.
Ardern managed to get home on a commercial flight which landed at Auckland Airport at about midnight on Friday.
“Of course it is always embarrassing when a plane that the Prime Minister is given to travel on breaks down but replacing it isn’t a priority,” Mark said.
He said New Zealand was stuck with the 757 aircraft until 2028 and it would be up to the government of the day to decide what to do with it then.
“The number of times successive governments have bought the wrong gear, and sadly I’m stuck with those problems and we just have to deal with it.”
In the meantime, Mark has recommended the Prime Minister use chartered planes to travel.
“That’s one of the conversations I’ve been having with Defence and no options are off the table,” he said.
The Defence Force has said the break-down was caused by a computer problem in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 that took the Prime Minister to Australia.
A replacement part was flown to Australia and the repair was expected to be made on Saturday.
The 757s have run into trouble before. National Prime Minister John Key was stranded in Townsville in 2016 when one of the 757s broke down during a stopover on the way to India – requiring a backup plane to be sent.
The NZDF’s two 757s were acquired in 2003 at a cost of $221 million, which included the cost of modifications in 2007.
They are understood to have been 10 years old when they were bought.
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