Airline with detained plane was Obama’s carrier during campaign


Mumbai : North American Airlines, whose passenger jet was detained here for violating norms, was the official carrier for US President Barack Obama during his election campaign last year.

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“North American Airlines was selected by the Obama team to provide a dedicated and customized aircraft for Senator Obama and his campaign for their exclusive use from April through the presidential election on November 4th (2008),” a posting on the airline website says.

“North American, working in concert with a leading aircraft interior company, outfitted the campaign plane with a customized interior as designed by the Obama team. This tailor-made interior went hand in hand with North American’s customized in-flight service. North American worked diligently on a daily basis to ensure that every last detail of that day’s flight was in place,” the posting added.

“Operating the Obama Campaign aircraft had to be a flexible yet precise synchronization due to the extensive and last minute nature of the campaign itinerary. On time performance was essential, especially for political rallies,” it said.

“Additionally, the campaign trail can be taxing and the aircraft was used for both strategy sessions and much needed rest between campaign stops. North American provided superior cabin service, which delivered the much-needed in-flight atmosphere necessary for the campaign team to arrive rested and fully prepared.”

Obama’s slogan, “Change We Can Believe In”, was emblazoned on both sides of the Boeing 757-200ER aircraft he travelled in during the campaign.

The North American aircraft detained at Mumbai Sunday afternoon was carrying 205 US Marines to Bangkok. The Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered it to land after a discrepancy in its call sign (identification).

It was later cleared by the relevant Indian departments and security agencies but could fly out only Monday on account of a dispute over payment of certain charges to the Air Traffic Control and airport authorities and other procedural issues.

North American Airlines is a major service provider to the US military.

“Our fleet of B757-200 and B767-300ER airliners provide the reliable and flexible service required by the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and other governmental agencies,” the airline says.

“We serve foreign government entities, as well, such as the Canadian and British national forces, respectively, all in addition to our traditional charter and scheduled service customers”