The Canadian Armed Forces was forced to send a second plane to Jamaica this week after the military aircraft that brought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Caribbean island for a family vacation became “unserviceable,” CBC News has learned.
Andrée-Anne Poulin, spokesperson for the Department of National Defence (DND), confirmed that two Royal Canadian Air Force CC-144 Challengers travelled to Jamaica.
“The first aircraft that transported the Prime Minister’s party became unserviceable after arrival,” she wrote in an e-mailed response. “The second aircraft brought a maintenance team to repair the first aircraft, and remained in the area as a back-up for the Prime Minister’s departure, if necessary.”
DND has not yet responded to questions about what happened to the PM’s plane or when it became unserviceable.
The plane that brought Trudeau to Jamaica is one of the military’s newer Challenger aircraft.
This is the second time in less than four months that a plane transporting Trudeau has been unable to fly because of mechanical problems.
In September, Trudeau’s departure from India after a G20 summit meeting was delayed for two days after pre-flight checks revealed a part on the CC-150 Polaris was faulty and needed to be replaced.
Trudeau, who is required to travel on military planes for security reasons, flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica on Dec. 26 for a vacation with his family.
While his office initially said that he would be paying for his family’s accommodations, it later stated that Trudeau and family were staying in Jamaica “at no cost at a location owned by family friends.”
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the problems with the plane Friday, referring questions to DND.
During Trudeau’s previous holidays, the aircraft transporting the prime minister and his family flew to their destination and remained nearby before transporting them back to Canada.
On Wednesday, however, a second Challenger aircraft was spotted by flight trackers heading to Jamaica. On Thursday afternoon, flight tracking sites showed both planes flying back to Ottawa, with the second Challenger following not far behind the PM’s plane.
Trudeau’s vacations out of the country have been controversial at times. A trip to visit the Aga Khan on a private island in 2016 resulted in a finding by former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson that he had violated ethics rules that prohibit ministers from accepting gifts or other advantages.
While Trudeau argued that the trip didn’t contravene the rules because the Aga Khan was a family friend, Dawson concluded that Trudeau and the Aga Khan had little contact for decades before he became Liberal Party leader.