Mail and Guardian

The luxury jet given to Swazi King Mswati III as a “birthday present” last week appears to have been subjected to “aircraft laundering” to conceal its origins, an amaBhungane investigation indicates.

The investigation also strongly suggests that the price of the refitted aircraft is likely to have been much higher than the maximum $2-million estimated by experts last week. One knowledgeable plane-spotter believed it could have cost up to $20-million (R157-million).

Mswati’s jet is an MD-87, a longer-range, more modern and considerably more expensive version of the first-generation MacDonnell Douglas DC-9, which ceased production in the early 1980s.

Last week Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini misleadingly announced that a DC-9 had been donated to Mswati by “a development partner”.

In addition, the plane’s interior appears to have undergone a major VIP conversion before delivery to Swaziland. It has been established that in March 2010 it was flown to Goderich Aircraft in Ontario, Canada, which specialises in the custom luxury conversions of midsize business jets.  Read more…