Monday 23 October 2017

Price of government jet fell by £1m two years after purchase

Charlie Haughey at his home Abbeville
Charlie Haughey at his home Abbeville
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE price of the government jet had almost halved in the two years after it was purchased in 1980.

A confidential 1983 report, released as part of the state archives, examined proposals to dispose of the jet which Taoiseach Charles Haughey had ordered at a cost of IR£2.5m.

However, a confidential memo warned the Departments of the Taoiseach, Transport and Foreign Affairs that the jet was now worth, at most, IR£1.5m with the private jet market in rapid decline due to recession.

A study into the costings of the jet was ordered by Finance Minister Alan Dukes.

"The extraordinarily high cost to the State of the jet and the very low level of its utilisation by ministers are a great concern to the department," a May 21 memo warned.

The transport study revealed the jet cost IR£579,325 to operate in 1982, having made a total of 204 flights to 23 different destinations, carrying a total of 686 passengers.

The study found that Brussels was the most regular destination, with an average cost per nautical mile flown of IR£4.89.

The cost of scheduled airline flights for the trips carried out by the government jet would have amounted to IR£236,000 -- less than half the price.

A major issue of concern was that the government jet often operated at far below its most cost-effective capacity. But the Department of Transport advised against the disposal of the jet on security, diplomatic, economic and public morale grounds. It rejected the view that the aircraft was seen as unnecessary. "The Minister for Transport does not agree that the government jet is generally regarded as a very expensive and luxurious facility," another memo advised.

Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald was determined that the most efficient use of the jet be achieved and that taxpayers receive value for money.

The decision was ultimately taken to retain the jet.

Irish Independent

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