JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri has sold one of its state airplanes as part of a budget-cutting move championed by Gov. Eric Greitens.
In an online auction that ended Thursday afternoon, a bidder purchased the state’s 1999 Beechcraft King Air C90 for $627,500. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.
In addition to bankrolling money from the sale, budget documents released earlier note the maneuver will allow the state Department of Public Safety to save $37,000 in the next fiscal year on maintenance costs for the state’s fleet of aircraft.
The decision to sell the twin engine, six passenger plane came after Greitens, a Republican who took office on Jan. 9, said he is not planning to use the state plane.
“After evaluating the usage of the 1999 King Air C90, we determined it was no longer needed and selling it would be a smart budget decision,” said Capt. John Hotz, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol public information and education division.
Greitens largely has flown commercially or on privately owned jets since taking office. In early March, the Post-Dispatch reported that the private plane that ferried Greitens from Jefferson City to Springfield to Las Vegas and to Washington for a variety of official and political events was owned by a company that operates newspapers and television stations from Missouri to California.
The governor’s office and top officials with the St. Joseph-based News-Press & Gazette Co. said the plane was leased by a third party because the company was not using it at the time.
The online auction showed there were over 120 bids submitted for the plane over the course of nearly two weeks. In the final hour of the auction, the winning price jumped by $100,000.
The auction listing notes that the plane has an “airworthiness” certificate, but that some repairs may be needed.
“During ground operations, the right engine temperature increases at a greater rate than the left engine. Slowly increasing the power allows the engine to remain within normal parameters,” the listing notes.
The sale of the plane follows a similar aircraft liquidation in Illinois. Under orders first approved by former Gov. Pat Quinn and then carried out by current Gov. Bruce Rauner, the state sold four planes and one helicopter in 2015, netting $2.5 million and the reduction of an estimated $1 million in inspections and maintenance costs.
Officials say the remaining planes in Missouri’s fleet are not being eyed for grounding. The Department of Public Safety aircraft fleet consists of four helicopters, eight single-engine Cessnas and one remaining King Air.