The government said it is replacing the president's 22-year-old plane because the jet suffered a "serious breakdown" with President Miguel de La Madrid and six Cabinet members on board.

The new jet is a $49 million Boeing 757-225, which the government bought in February and then tried to unload because of strong public protest over the price tag.A statement released Friday night by de la Madrid's office said the incident with the old jet, a 22-year-old Boeing 727, occurred Sept. 17 during takeoff at the Cozumel airport. De la Madrid had been there surveying damage to the resort caused by Hurricane Gilbert.

The Boeing 727 "suffered a serious breakdown that put in danger the security of the President of the Republic and his companions, among whom were six Cabinet secretaries," the statement said. It did not provide additional details.

"It must be noted that the heads or representatives of the judicial and legislative powers frequently travel with the president, as do foreign guests and even chiefs of state or government from other countries," the statement said in explaining the decision to keep the new aircraft.

According to the statement, the government had been trying to sell the new jet but didn't get any decent offers, despite promoting the sale in more than 60 countries.