Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will fly commercially to the United States on Tuesday for meetings with US President Donald Trump. This means that the president of the tenth most populous country in the world will hope that his flight will not be delayed, push him in the head and pray for a constant temperature in the cabin, as long as he dreams of more legroom. You know, like all of us.
The president, who says private presidential planes are a hallmark of the “neoliberal elite,” will even have to stop. There are no direct flights from Mexico City to Washington, “López Obrador said last week during his daily press conference.” But we can make the connection and get to Washington the day before the meeting we have. “
A foreign ministry spokesman would not confirm the president’s exact plan, citing security issues. But we have a lot more questions than just which flight he is on.
We have insight into how the president flies commercially because this is not the first time he has done so. He did this several times on domestic flights to Mexico.
Videos and news show him starting his travels through the old airport in Mexico City, mobilized by selfie-seeking passengers shocked when the president passes by.
He then walks through security and heads for the door. CNN cannot confirm whether it is ever tempted to buy unnecessary magnets at tourist shops or buy overpriced coffee.
When he has boarded a plane in the past, he sits in the carriage and talks to other passengers the whole time. The spectacle became a kind of signature of a long-term politician.
This week’s flight will be a little different though – the trip will be López Obrador’s first international visit since taking office in December 2018. It’s unclear exactly how that could change what, at least domestically, has become a fairly standard operating procedure.
He will have to go through customs and immigration in the US, although a diplomatic passport should at least allow him to travel faster. He will take care of an unusual day at the office, regardless of which of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the task of stamping that passport.
Is that safe?
If you subscribe to the assumption that presidents are the target, then the answer is no – traveling through multiple public airports and trapped in planes with foreigners increases López Obrador’s exposure to potential threats. But he may not agree.
The president has stepped down from the armed guard since taking office, dissolving the president’s previous security detail. Instead, he travels around with a handful of aides and escorts who routinely allow the public direct access to the president.
His office does not publish the exact details of his travels and often shows up to the airport unannounced.
But for this trip to the White House, the president has already said publicly that he will fly on Tuesday.
A simple internet search shows that there are not many flights to choose from, especially during a demand reduction pandemic. Mexican officials could, of course, book a series of one-way flights, making it difficult to map potential flights.
But anyone who wants to see the president in person could quite reasonably guess which flight he can take from Mexico City.
There is also the fact that the president decides to fly in the middle of a pandemic. The risk of infection in flight can be mitigated if best health practices are done, such as wearing a mask. But López Obrador has never worn a mask in public and it is unclear whether he will do so on this trip.
Masked or not, flying advertising is certainly more risky than staying at home or flying privately. And López Obrador has his own plane. He just decided not to use it.
Wait, he has his own plane !? Why not just use it?
Officially, the Mexican government bought the 787-8 Boeing Dreamliner for presidential use back in 2012. The price of the plane was a staggering $ 218.7 million.
López Obrador, a leftist known for his populist positions and strong foothold among lower-income communities, has long viewed the plane as a notorious example of government redundancy and has vowed never to use it.
López Obrador said earlier this year that he would sell tickets and disassemble the plane to the winner. But what, in fact, could a lucky raffle winner do with a wide-body passenger plane? He later changed his proposal, saying he would continue to sell tickets to cover the cost of the plane, but instead of giving the plane itself to the winner, instead 100 cash prizes for Mexican pesos would be awarded to 100 winners, which is approximately $ 900,000,
In the meantime, they will try to sell or rent a plane.
Critics say López Obrador’s unwillingness to use that plane or other Mexican aviation aircraft is a cheap political stunt aimed at many Mexican voters who will never be able to afford a plane ticket.
Supporters supported his stance, saying boarding a plane with wide leather seats, a double bed and a spacious bathroom with shower would be incoherent with so many Mexicans struggling with poverty.
No matter which side you fall on, flying advertising is definitely the cheapest option. A search on Kayak.com over the weekend for a one-stop ticket and a tour of Mexico City – Washington, DC, tickets on Tuesday and return on Thursday were just over $ 1,100 per person.