Fact check: The US Government did not pay for Ruto's private jet

President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto disembark from a jet on arrival in Atlanta, US. [PCS]

The US government has clarified that it did not foot the bill for President William Ruto’s private jet to America.

President Ruto embarked on a 4-day State visit to the United States. He left the country on Sunday, May 19.

In a statement on Tuesday, May 21, US Embassy Nairobi Spokesperson Andrew Veveiros said; “Just to be clear, The United States of America did not pay for President Ruto’s jet to the U.S."

The response follows an exclusive story published by The Standard and KTN News on Tuesday, detailing how much it will cost taxpayers for Ruto’s U.S. state visit.

Earlier, The Standard reported that taxpayers will shoulder a hefty cost for Ruto’s trip. State House chartered a Boeing 737-700 business jet operated by Royal Jet of Dubai.

The luxurious aircraft, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, caters to the luxury market between the UAE, Europe, and the USA. The cost of chartering this jet is substantial—approximately $18,000 per hour.

A one-way flight from Nairobi to Atlanta, as quoted by Royal Jet, amounts to an eye-watering $748,600 (Sh98 million) for the 18-hour journey. Considering President Ruto’s round trip to Washington (a nearly two-hour flight), the total cost could exceed Sh200 million.

An hour aboard the Edese Doret-designed BBJ starts at $12,000 (Sh1.6 million), potentially reaching $18,000 (approximately Sh2.4 million).

 Transporting the president and his entourage from Nairobi to Atlanta could cost anywhere between Sh29 million (low estimate) and Sh43.2 million (high estimate). Similar costs apply for the return journey.

While commercial options exist, such as Kenya Airways (KQ) charters, Ruto’s BBJ experience remains unmatched.

Foreign Heads of State often charter their country’s carriers during state visits when their presidential jets lack the necessary range. In this case, Ruto’s journey exemplifies opulence at an extraordinary cost.

And so, as President Ruto’s four-day US trip gets underway, the taxpayer foots the bill for a presidential voyage that transcends commercial norms—a journey that echoes both luxury and controversy.

Ruto’s decision to travel in style marks the first visit by an African president to the United States in 15 years.

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