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The Caf double champions now have two aircraft to ease the team’s transportation problems for national and international fixtures after acquiring a new 140-seater

Africa's reigning club champions TP Mazembe welcomed their second private plane this week at the Luano International Airport in Lubumbashi, a year after the Congolese club stunned the region with the acquisition of a German-made Dornier 128 utility aircraft meant for its officials.

The new 140-seater McDonnell Douglas MD-80, which includes a 16-seat VIP Lounge, is painted in the black and white colours of the Corbeaux, with its tail bearing the logo of the 72-year-old club.

The team’s traditional motto, “Badiangwena Baseka”,was replaced by that of the United States, "In God We Trust", emblazoned on both sides of the plane.

At a brief cocktail party that followed the arrival of the aircraft, the president of TP Mazembe, Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, business tycoon and governor of the mineral-rich Katanga Province (Southeastern DR Congo), said the new plane will alleviate the club’s transportation problems.

Exterior view
Interior view

“Four years ago, we were eliminated from a competition because we couldn’t make the trip down due to lack of flights,” recalled Chapwe, whom state television RTNC said used personal funds for the new purchase.

“Now, that will be history. Our team can now travel more easily, more safely and more rapidly.”

Besides a $10 million (€7.4m) budget for the 2010-2012 season, the four-time Caf Champions League winners will soon settle in their ultramodern stadium, due for completion next year, according to the club’s media department.

Mazembe becomes the first African football club to possess a fleet of personal aircraft, which Capwe said was in line with the vision of the club.

“We want to be a bull in African football and to do this we must acquire all necessary means,” he said.

Currently second in the Congolese top flight, Mazembe were kicked out of the 2011 Caf Champions League following the use of an ineligible player during the preliminary stage of the campaign.