Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the emir of Qatar gave a luxury jumbo jet as a “gift” to Turkey, rejecting opposition claims the plane had been bought in a costly purchase for the presidency.
In comments published on Monday, Erdogan said Turkey had shown interest in buying the on-sale Boeing 747-8 plane – reportedly worth around $400m (R6bn) – but emir sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani insisted on offering the plane as a gift.
“We were interested. When the Qatar emir was informed of this he gave it as a gift, saying ‘I won’t take money from Turkey. I will give this plane as a gift’.”
The Turkish president insisted that while the jet would be used for his trips, “the plane is not mine, it is the Turkish Republic’s”, in comments to reporters while returning from a visit to Azerbaijan.
Erdogan said that once the paintwork was finished he hoped to use the plane for travel.
Gulf media have said that the giant plane, which was part of Tamim’s personal fleet, is equipped for only 76 passengers and has lounges and boardrooms.