President Xi Jinping is to arrive at Paine Field in Everett on Tuesday in a Chinese-government-owned Boeing 747. It got us thinking: What kinds of aircraft serve other heads of state?
Herald aerospace reporter Dan Catchpole compiled a list of nations and their VIP airplanes. It’s obviously incomplete, but here’s what he was able to find.
If you’re keeping score: Boeing 21, Airbus 17, other 6.
Countries are ranked by population.
1. China: Boeing 747.
2. India: Boeing 747. According to news reports, India plans to replace the 747 with a 777.
3. United States: Boeing 747. The U.S. Air Force has ordered three 747-8s to replace the current two-plane fleet.
4. Indonesia: Boeing 737, a Boeing Business Jet.
5. Brazil: Airbus A319.
6. Pakistan: Airbus A310.
9. Russia: Ilyushin Il-96.
10. Japan: Boeing 747. To be replaced by a 777-300ER in 2019.
11. Mexico: Boeing 787-8. Mexico bought one of the overweight, early build 787 Dreamliners.
14. Egypt: Airbus A340.
16. Germany: Airbus A340.
17. Iran: Boeing 747. For international travel, Iran’s presidents use a commercial airplane operated by Iran Air.
18. Turkey: Airbus A330.
20. France: Airbus A330.
21. Thailand: Boeing 737-800.
22. United Kingdom: No dedicated airplane. Britain leases long-haul jets for overseas VIP travel.
23. Italy: Airbus A319.
24. South Africa: Boeing 737. An order for a Boeing 777-200 was cancelled.
27. South Korea: Boeing 747.
29. Spain: Airbus A310.
31. Argentina: Boeing 757-200.
32. Ukraine: Airbus A319.
33. Algeria: Airbus A340-500.
34. Poland: Embraer ERJ-175.
35. Sudan: Ilyushin Il-62.
37. Canada: Airbus A310.
39. Morocco: Boeing 737. A Boeing Business Jet.
40. Saudi Arabia: Boeing 747. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bought but never took delivery of an Airbus A380.
41. Peru: Boeing 737-500.
43. Malaysia: Airbus A320. Malaysia is the third owner of the plane.
48. Yemen: Boeing 747, which was destroyed during fighting with rebels in March.
52. Australia: Boeing 737, a Boeing Business Jet.
53. Taiwan: Boeing 737-800.
54. Syria: Airbus A340. With the country gripped in civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad likely doesn’t have any overseas travel planned.
77. Belgium: A leased Airbus A321.
91. Azerbaijan: Boeing 767-300 equipped with radar-jamming equipment.
92. Belarus: Boeing 767-300, purchased from another post-Soviet dictatorship, Turkmenistan, in 2012.
96. Israel: Leases an El Al commercial plane for flying its prime minister abroad. Israeli ministers and the president fly first class on regular El Al flights.
99. Jordan: Airbus A340. King Abdullah II is a trained pilot. Rumors that he flew air strikes against ISIS are, however, untrue.
115. Slovakia: Tupolev Tu-154.
126. Oman: Boeing 747.
132. Georgia: Gulfstream IV.
138. Kuwait: Airbus A340. Kuwait used a Boeing 747 until a couple years ago.
140. Armenia: Airbus A319.
147. Botswana: Bombardier Global Express.
156. Bahrain: Boeing 747.