Inside the RNZAF Boeing 757 used by Jacinda Ardern

The aircraft also has a history of breaking down. A lot.
The aircraft also has a history of breaking down. A lot. Photo credit: Creative Commons

There's been much fuss made of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's use of an air force aircraft on her visit to Auckland on Tuesday.

While the images people may dream up of what that air force aircraft experience may have looked like, the reality is likely very different.

Unlike aircraft of leaders from around the world, NZ7571 is no luxurious flying office in the sky. It's no airborne Beehive.

The aircraft has a record of frequently breaking down.
The aircraft has a record of frequently breaking down. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Putting aside the fact the aircraft flies daily, and often to Wellington, Palmerston North or Blenheim, it really isn't an aircraft someone would push for over the much quieter and more reliable aircraft from within Air New Zealand's domestic fleet.

The nearly 30-year-old Boeing 757 was first flown for Transavia Airlines, a Dutch low-cost airline in 1993, before being purchased by RNZAF in 2003.

Inside the RNZAF Boeing 757 used by Jacinda Ardern
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Photos from inside the cabin reveal it doesn't appear to have had any work done to it since its first flight, and there's no such thing as first class. In fact, it looks like it would be more comfortable to fly as freight rather than a passenger onboard this aircraft.

Air Force vs Air New Zealand
Air Force vs Air New Zealand Photo credit: Creative Commons/Air New Zealand

And it's not just the interior that needs some work. Newshub revealed earlier this year that the aircraft is often out of service and unavailable for use.

In May, Chief of Airforce Andrew Clark said "anything can go wrong on an aeroplane at some stage".

Documents obtained by Newshub at the time showed the Boeing 757 fleet has been unavailable for a total of 156 days since 2019.

In 2019, Ardern had to deal with a week of breakdowns and in the same year a second plane had to be sent to pick up former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters when one of the Boeing 757s broke down in Vanuatu.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key had to be saved when a 757 broke down twice in 2016, stranding him and a delegation of nearly 100 in Australia en route to India.

The photoshopped diamond-encrusted jumbo jet had many fooled when the photo was posted in 2018.
The photoshopped diamond-encrusted jumbo jet had many fooled when the photo was posted in 2018. Photo credit: Emirates

But the Government has no plans to replace the aged 757s until around 2028. Perhaps then, New Zealand will have a Jacinda Jet which will be worthy of headlines.