Business Irish

Saturday 16 December 2017

We pay for air quango's jolly trip to theatre

LOUISE McBRIDE and NICK WEBB

The aviation quango, the Commission for Aviation Regulation, used company credit cards to splurge on a theatre outing, baby gifts for staff and a slap-up anniversary lunch at Ely Wine Bar, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Despite crushing austerity measures experienced by many people, the aviation regulator didn't let the economic downturn stop it celebrating its 10-year anniversary in style. In May 2011, the Commission for Aviation Regulation credit card was used to pay for a lunch bill of €757.90 at Ely Wine Bar. A spokesman said the lunch was held to mark the office's tenth anniversary.

The quango, which is largely funded by the passenger levy paid by the millions of people flying out of Irish airports each month, also used the company credit card to pay for a theatre outing last October which cost a total of €286.80.

Staff footed some of the bill for the outing, while the regulator paid for the rest, according to a spokesman for the body. The Commission for Aviation Regulation, however, declined to say exactly how much of the theatre bill had been covered by staff.

The quango has embraced the baby boom, using the company credit card to buy flowers for some staff who had children since March 2011. As well as picking up the bill for staff accommodation in the Burlington Hotel and Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, the regulator paid for its employees to fly to conferences and meetings in Brussels, Berlin, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Warsaw.

Details of the quango's credit card spending were provided to the Sunday Independent in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the paper.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation received €200,000 in licence fees from the travel industry, air carriers and ground handlers in 2011. In the same year, it received €2.5m from the air passenger levy, which according to a Commission for Aviation Regulation spokesman, is largely paid by airport authorities "who in turn collect it from their customers".

Irish Independent

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