President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has ordered a jet that will rival Air Force One, to the tune of £150 million.
The plane features a 12-man meeting room, 60 business class seats, top-grade encrypted communications systems, a reinforced fuselage and a missile decoy system. Furthermore it will include a bedroom and a shower, as well as an air-filtration system to allow the president to smoke his cigars.
Reports claim Sarkozy also wanted a full-size bathtub installed, but fears were raised about the water spilling and seeping into the plane under heavy turbulence. According to Le Canard Enchaîné, the president was told he would have to settle for a flood-proof hip bath, a claim the government denies.
He has also commissioned a fleet of smaller jets (Falcon 7Xs) which will replace the current Falcon 50 and 900 units at ministers’ disposal.
The spate of new aircraft comes after Sarkozy complained the two smaller Airbus A319s he was using lacked appropriate presidential stature, particularly compared with America’s Air Force One.
The new purchases come at a time when significant austerity measures are being enacted in France and have drawn substantial criticism. Luc Chatel, the government spokesman, responded by saying: “There is nothing ostentatious, simply a desire to have equipment fitting for the world’s fifth power”.
Due to have its internal fittings completed in October, the specially upholstered Airbus A330-200, has just completed its first test flight in Bordeaux.