Government jet costs plummet as ministers' wings clipped
MINISTERS have had their wings substantially clipped with the spend on flying the government jets now a third of what it was before the economic bust.
Flights taken by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and cabinet ministers cost the taxpayer €1.3m last year compared with the €3.63m shelled out in 2008.
Government sources also admit there is a marked reluctance among ministers to use the jets because of what they see as adverse media coverage.
Latest figures show the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft clocked up 19,815 minutes' flying time in 2012, compared with 27,095 minutes in 2007.
The figures reveal that Enda Kenny was the most frequent flyer last year, with 24 trips on the €3,790-an-hour Gulfstream jet.
He took in locations such as Zurich, Oslo and Rome.
But despite the cull in ministerial air miles, it has now emerged there was a dramatic increase of €664,992 in jet costs last year, compared with 2011.
The 2012 figures include 27 missions to Brussels at a combined cost of €325,440.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also used the second government aircraft, the Learjet 45, which costs €4,200 an hour, on seven occasions to locations such as Tunis and Luxembourg.
According to documents from the Department of Defence, obtained by the Irish Independent, figures show that the most costly flight undertaken by government was the St Patrick's Day trip to the US by Mr Kenny which totalled €66,325.
The Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) is primarily provided by the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft, with the cost of maintaining the jets calculated by hours of flight.