Monday 16 July 2018

'Breakfast box' on State jet tickles Leo's taste buds

Muesli, porridge oats and herbal teas keep Leo fighting fit

FLYING HIGH: The Learjet 45 operates seven days a week
FLYING HIGH: The Learjet 45 operates seven days a week
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

He has a penchant for well-cut suits and funky socks - but the Taoiseach's 'breakfast box' on board the Government's private jet shows he can also be a man of simple tastes.

The box, part of the aircraft's official "requirement list" before take-off, contains Alpen muesli and porridge oats, plus assorted jams and marmalade.

In keeping with Leo Varadkar's 'keep-fit' mantra, and slimmed-down image, a range of herbal teas are also on the menu for a caffeine-free alternative.

But if his Government ministers are looking to satisfy less healthy cravings, an assortment of toffees, chocolate biscuits and mints are all part of the in-flight service.

Two types of Tayto crisps - cheese and onion and salt and vinegar - as well as Doritos and Pringles, can be enjoyed.

Salsa and sour cream are also part of the on-board service. Surprisingly, healthy alternatives such as fresh fruits are not catered for.

But, according to sources, a range of sandwiches, salads, and pastries, could also be on offer, depending on the destination involved.

"When abroad, the catering available from airport handling agents varies based on local food type and availability on a given day," according to a source.

The Taoiseach has not requested any specific additional foods or drinks be added to the breakfast box, or provided on board the jet, a government spokesperson confirmed.

The Learjet 45 entered service in 2004 and operates seven days a week, usually ferrying the Taoiseach and ministers to attend overseas engagements.

New financial records show €1,120 is spent each year on the 'in-flight' bar.

There is a choice of five different spirits, including gin, vodka, Jameson and Powers whiskey, plus Hennessy brandy.

Records obtained by the Sunday Independent show the most popular tipple among our elected representatives is a gin and tonic. The number one beer is a Heineken, followed by Guinness and Carlsberg. Ministers have the option of either a 'large' or 'small' glass of red or white wine, with 824 glasses consumed in the past five years. An assortment of soft drinks - including Lucozade, 7up and Coca-Cola - are available.

Overall, the cost of transporting ministers on the Bombardier Learjet has soared amid a flurry of crunch EU Brexit-related engagements in Brussels.

Latest figures show the jet has been used for 30 ministerial trips so far this year - costing €438,795 for a total of 116 flight hours.

This means each journey has a price tag of €14,600.

There were 24 flights over the same period last year - notching up a bill of €288,225 for 76 hours of flying time.

In the first seven months of the year, a number of ministers and special advisers attended 12 high-stake meetings in the European capital, as Brexit talks intensified.

Records show an assortment of politicians, including former Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald, and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny used the jet on a number of occasions.

Sunday Independent

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