The PM Who Flies His Plane

Few world leaders are known to fly themselves on state business, but Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipila (55) does.
Sipila, a soft-spoken engineer, earned millions as an information technology entrepreneur before joining the politics. The PM, who took office in 2015, is often at the controls of private jets when on official trips. And he does not own the planes he flies. A believer in austerity, Sipila rents them at his own expense. Finnish weekly “Suomen Kuvalethi” has estimated that the flight cost him hundreds of thousands of euros.
Sipila has made 19 such trips since becoming the prime minister. In 2016, he flew more than 5,000km from Finland to Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. He flew a Cessna 525 business jet, which seats 6-7 passengers. Then again, he flew 1,400km to meet fellow European Union leaders in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
Sipila does not always take to the cockpit. When coalition negotiations dragged on till late night in November 2015, Sipila missed the last flight to his hometown Oulu in north Finland. Once the deal was forged in early morning, he did not order a private flight to be organised. Instead, he took an ambulance flight and gave the last available passenger seat to his wife Minna-Maaria. The PM sat on the plane’s toilet seat for the one-hour flight.
PM Sipila, who has vowed to “fix Finland” and put the Eurozone member’s economy back on track, is known for his modesty.


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