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Say what you will about the impending demise of the Boeing 747, but there’s one thing the Queen of the Skies still does better than any other airplane: make history. For the historic summit between the US president and the leader of North Korea, both leaders chose to fly the Queen.
After leaving the G-7 meeting in Canada early, President Trump’s Air Force One landed at 8:21pm Singapore time (8:21am Eastern). While not technically a Boeing 747, the president’s Boeing VC-25 is a militarized version of the passenger jet.
While it was no surprise how Trump would arrive at the summit, there was quite a bit of speculation about how Kim Jong Un would make the journey. On Sunday, three aircraft were spotted leaving North Korea: an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane (carrying Kim’s armored limo and personal toilet) an Air China 747-400 (registration B-2447) and Kim’s private Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-62M (registration P-885).
Since it’s Kim’s private plane, spotters widely expected the IL-62M to be carrying the leader. But, beating Trump to Singapore by a few hours, it was the Air China 747-400 that Kim stepped off of in Singapore. The 23-year-old Air China 747-400 is often seen flying commercial routes intra-China, but it’s typically only flown internationally with Chinese government VIPs aboard, which some deem China’s Air Force One.
The usage of the Air China VIP aircraft may indicate that the North Korean government doesn’t feel its fleet of Soviet-built aircraft are safe enough to transport their leader. Or perhaps the Air China 747 was chosen as another form of safety since the IL-62M needed to stop in China along the way to refuel. Rather than having to worry about another landing and takeoff — and securing the airfield for the re-fueling visit — Kim chose the nonstop option.
While there’s no commercial air service between Pyongyang and Singapore, if Kim were able to redeem miles for the flight, he’d want to use Asiana Club miles or Avianca LifeMiles. Both programs charge just 100,000 miles round-trip in first class between Korea and Singapore on Star Alliance partners. Considering the large entourage Kim travels with, hopefully North Korea was able to stock up on LifeMiles during the recent 135% promotional buy miles bonus for this theoretical redemption.
H/T: The Drive
Featured image by Terence Tan for Ministry of Communications and Information Singaporet/Via Getty Images.
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