Inside Move: Plane truth

Viv U puts Messier jet on departure course

For sale: one Airbus A319 JC jet plane. Comes, loaded with modern conveniences, carpeting, bedroom, shower and state-of-the art communications system.

In his heyday as Vivendi topper, Jean-Marie Messier insisted on nothing less than the top of the line when jetting between Paris and New York.

But as the sale of the conglom’s entertainment assets looms, Messier’s successors are looking to unload the ex-topper’s high-flying shuttle, a relic that now serves as a painful reminder of the not-so-distant past when the Gauls thought they were going to conquer America.

But would-be buyers beware: The jet is incapable of making trans-oceanic flights without a stop if operated in la mode Messier. The weight of the water used in an onboard shower installed by the Viv U topper necessitates a refueling stop in Cape Verde or other waypoint.

Still, the twin-engine bird has French president Jacques Chirac “salivating,” saysweekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaine.

The government already has two such Airbuses for its ministers, but nothing so swank as Messier’s flying palace. According to the newspaper, France’s defense minister herself has the air force pondering the sale of its Falcon 900 planes to raise the $122 million minimum being asked for Messier’s indulgence.