Besides the political importance, the 47th summit of world leaders provides a possibility to witness a whole parade of presidential jets from all over the world. What aircraft did the participants use to arrive in Cornwall?
Australia, South Korea, South Africa
The three countries are not a part of the G7 but were invited anyway. Their arrival proved a bit troublesome though.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison traveled to the UK onboard Royal Australian Air Force’s Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, which can be used for both mid-air refueling of other planes and transportation of personnel.
The aircraft (A39-007) arrived from Perth (PER) with short stops in Singapore (SIN) and Dubai (DXB) but was unable to land at Cornwall Airport Newquay (NQY) due to thick fog. The flight was redirected to RAF Brize Norton air base (BZZ)
(Image: Bidgee / Wikipedia)
South Korean president Moon Jae-in uses the Code One for international travel: a heavily modified Boeing 747-400 (10001) operated by Korean Air. The aging aircraft is going to be replaced by a brand-new 747-8i in November 2021.
In what is probably one of the last visits of the 747-400 Code One to Europe, the aircraft departed the Seoul Air Base (SSN) on June 11, and full day later – like many others – has landed at NQY.
(Image: Jeroen Stroes / Wikipedia)
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa uses a Boeing business jet called Inkwazi (ZS-RSA) for international travel, while sometimes chartering other aircraft for longer intercontinental journeys.
Inkwazi had already visited Europe in May, when Ramphosa arrived in Paris for the Summit on the Financing of African Economies.
Ramposa was the last of the leaders to arrive in Cornwall, as the Inkwazi landed at NQY in the afternoon of June 11.
(Image: Fæ / Wikipedia)
Presidential aircraft usually have several features in common. They are secretive, secure, luxurious, and… scandalous. The Canadian Airbus CC-150 Polaris (001), used by prime minister Justin Trudeau to arrive in the UK, has found itself in the middle of a lot of scandals in recent years. It was deemed too expensive, underwent numerous refits and conversions, spent many years in a hangar as politicians refused to use it, and finally – in December 2019 – headbutted a wall while being towed.
Some shenanigans later it returned to the line of duty and was ready by March 2021. Its fresh white-red-blue livery (itself a subject of yet another scandal) could have been seen at NQY on the eve of the summit, on June 10, 2021.
(Image: Artem Batuzak / Wikipedia)
French president Emmanuel Macron usually uses Airbus A330-200 of the Special Transportation Squadron of the French Air Force. However, Cornwall is not that far from Paris, so, using a long-range wide-body jet was probably considered too impractical.
Macron hopped on one of the squadron’s brand new Dassault Falcon 7X trijets instead.
Just as the Air Force One is typically associated with the American presidential transport, Konrad Adenauer is the name inseparable from the aircraft of German statesmen. Currently the aging Airbus A340 quadjet is being exchanged for a trio of new high-tech A350s. However… Angela Merkel did not travel to Cornwall in any of those.
Instead she arrived on a governmental Airbus A321-200 (15+01) – a smaller, but no less impressive airplane. The aircraft itself belonged to Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) before being purchased by the Luftwaffe in 2018 and converted into a mobile command post. It landed at NQY on June 11, as soon as the fog cleared.
The 31st wing of the Italian Air Force is responsible for transporting government officials. Its fleet is topped out by a trio of Airbus ACJ319s – business jets based on the A319. One of them (the MM62174) transported the Italian prime minister Mario Draghi to Cronwall.
The aircraft successfully landed at NQY in the morning of June 11, avoiding the hassle with rerouting other aircraft had to undergo several hours later.
(Image: Faebot / Wikipedia)
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga’s journey to the UK contained some adventures.
Country’s Air Force uses two brand-new Boeing 777-300ERs to transport its officials, nicknamed – fittingly – Japanese Air Force One (JF 001) and Japanese Air Force Two (JF 002). The second of them is often used as a spare, just in case the first one encounters problems.
That is exactly what happened on June 11, as the One was befallen by unspecified “mechanical trouble”. The Two was immediately dispatched, and Suga departed for Cornwall with a 90-minute-delay. Thankfully, the journey and the landing were successful.
The story of the journey of the summit’s host, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, made rounds in the wake of the event. Instead of taking a car, or a train, or some other nature-friendly mode of transportation, Johnson departed for Cornwall on the “Brexit Jet” – the Union Jack-adorned Airbus A321, which covered the 399 km (248 m) between London Stansted (STN) and NQY in 49 minutes, putting close to 2 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The aircraft itself – despite its impressive décor – does not belong to the British government. It is operated by Titan Airways, which started leasing it to Her Majesty’s officials in March 2021.
Everybody knows the Air Force One, the Boeing VC-25 (heavily modified 747-200B) which has carried American presidents since the Reagan administration. Yes, the callsign is also used by any other jet while the president is onboard, and yes, the VC-25s always travel in pair, just in case one of them pulls off the Japan Air Force One stunt.
Joe Biden touched down at NQY onboard one of the blue-white jets on the night of June 10. However, that was not the end of the story.
As the American presidential motorcade would, probably, be a bit too much for the pastoral British countryside, the journeys around Cornwall are to be conducted on the Marine One – US Marine Corps’ Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King helicopter. It arrived to the UK onboard a Boeing C-17 Globemaster