Navajo Nation considers $20M loan to purchase new air fleet

Airplanes at the Chinle Municipal Airport in Chinle, Arizona. Photo from Navajo Nation Airport System Master Plan

The Navajo Nation Council has approved legislation to acquire three new airplanes with a $20 million loan.

The tribe plans to replace three aging aircraft that were placed in service in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Associated Press reports. Delegate Davis Filfred said the planes are being decommissioned next year because it has become too costly to maintain them.

Some leaders, though, don't think the tribe needs new planes. “It reinforces the perception of Navajo Nation leadership that the people feel we’re out of touch with the everyday struggles of our people,” Delegate Amber Crotty told the AP.

President Russell Begaye hasn't said whether he will sign Legislation 0238-15. In early August, he used one of the planes to travel to the site of the Gold King Mine spill in Colorado, a trip that provided key information about a disaster that wasn't being provided by any other source.

The Navajo Nation is about the same size as West Virginia. Traveling by plane is often the quickest and easiest way for tribal leaders to get to meetings on the vast reservation. The planes are also used for trips to Washington, D.C., and other cities.

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation, where many struggle, weighs $20M for planes (AP 11/2)
Navajo lawmakers approve buying new airplanes (The Farmington Daily Times 10/21)

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