The United Kingdom has quietly introduced its own version of Air Force One and like in the USA, the red and white and blue color scheme is mired in controversy.
UK Debuts Its Version Of Air Force One
For years, the Prime Minister, Monarch, and other top government officials or members of the royal household have flown on UK’s Royal Air Force Voyagers, specially-configured Airbus A330 aircraft for official business. Unlike the specially-painted aircraft for top officials in countries like France, Germany, and the United States, these RAF aircraft were just painted gray.
But recently, one of these VIP-configured aircraft (ZZ336) was re-painted in a patriotic scheme with the Union Jack on the tail. The cost of the paint job was £900,000 (currently $1.1 million).
As you can see the theme of the aircraft somewhat resembles the Negus theme of British Airways, used from 1974-1980.
image: British Airways
Outrage Over Cost
Obviously, some people are going to be offended about anything, but the Labour Party has launched a particularly stinging attack against the government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally for what it calls obscene spending during a time of austerity. Labour believes the money should have been spent on jobs and eduction.
The government argues the paint job is intended to promote the UK abroad, with Downing Street stating:
“This will mean that the plane can better represent the UK around the world with national branding, similar to many other leaders’ planes, while also retaining its military air-to-air refuelling capability.”
A spokesperson added, “At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.”
The exterior redo is a small fraction of the £10 million spent to redo the interior of the aircraft in 2016. But it is certainly a more cosmetic change. Stylistically, I must admit I think France, Germany, and the United States all have better designs, though I would not call this a bad design.
What do you think about the new “Air Force One” in the UK?
image: Crown Copyright