Ruto: Friends offered me private jet to the US at Sh10m

President William Ruto makes his remarks during the 21st National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel on May 30,2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President William Ruto has dismissed claims that his private jet to the United States cost taxpayers Sh200 million. 

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, May 30, Ruto clarified that the plane was provided by friends, and cost taxpayers less than Sh10 million.

“When I saw the debate in Kenya as to how I travelled to the US, there were all manner of figures; people saying it cost Sh200 million to travel because I wanted to arrive in style, holding Rachel's [First Lady] hand, I am a very responsible steward. There is no way I can spend Sh200 million,” said Ruto. 

"In fact, let me disclose here that the trip cost Kenya less than Sh10 million. I am not a mad man," he added.

The Head of State explained that he initially asked his team to book Kenya Airways after learning the cheapest private jet was Sh70 million. 

"When I was told the cheapest plane was Sh70 million, I instructed my office to book KQ. Some friends heard I was going to travel with KQ, asked how much I was paying, and then offered me a plane for Sh10 million," he explained.

Ruto emphasized his commitment to fiscal responsibility. 

"Look at me, Kenyans, look at me again. I must lead from the front as I tell others to tighten their belts. So relax, and let the debate end because I am that responsible. We will ensure we live within our means," he said.

Ruto’s remarks however raises questions on the integrity of the ‘donation.’

According to the Article 76 of the 2010 Constitution, “a gift or donation to a State officer on a public or official occasion is a gift or donation to the Republic and shall be delivered to the State unless exempted under an Act of Parliament.”

The Standard had earlier reported that State House chartered a Boeing 737-700 business jet operated by Royal Jet of Dubai. The airline, based in Abu Dhabi, offers charter services for $18,000 (Sh2.4 million) per hour, targeting the luxury market between the UAE, Europe, and the USA.

A quotation from Royal Jet, which provided Ruto’s transport, revealed that a one-way flight from Nairobi to Atlanta costs $748,600 (Sh98 million) for the 18-hour flight. 

This meant the president’s round trip aboard the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) would exceed Sh200 million, as he also flew to Washington, D.C.

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