Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani presented his specially equipped Boeing 747-8 not to him personally but to Turkey, the T24 news website reported on Monday.
“Qatar was selling this plane. As far as I know the price was about 500 [million dollars]. We were interested in it. When the Qatari emir heard about it, he gifted it to Turkey. ‘I’m not taking money from Turkey. I’m presenting it Turkey. I’m gifting it to Turkey,’ he said. The plane is not owned by me but by the Republic of Turkey,” Erdoğan told journalists on his plane while returning from Azerbaijan.
Turkish media outlets last week reported that the airplane, which was originally to be sold on the secondary market at a price at $400 million, landed on the night of Sept. 11 at İstanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport to join Turkey’s presidential fleet.
Having a capacity of 400 passengers under normal circumstances, this particular Boeing 747-8 was modified to provide meeting rooms and a bedroom as well as a special infirmary and can carry up to 76 passengers along with a flight crew of 18.
Criticizing the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) over remarks on the plane, Erdoğan said: ” I sued them. They will crawl in the courthouses. All of them, including their chairman [Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu].”
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu on Monday strongly criticized Erdoğan’s remarks.
“Does the president of the Republic of Turkey use a gifted plane? If he has any honor he would return it tomorrow,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in Ankara.
The emir of Qatar decided to give it to Erdoğan as a present due to “his love for Erdoğan and his trust in Turkey,” media reports said last week.
Following its delivery to Qatar in 2015, the airplane flew for 436 hours, carrying out a total of 200 takeoffs and landings over the last three years.