Taoiseach's trips nearly half of €1.1m jet costs


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny accounted for almost half the €1.1 million spent on flying Ministers in Government jets since the Government came to power, according to new figures.

Mr Kenny was responsible for 25 of the 57 trips taken by Ministers in the two main jets, though on some occasions he was accompanied by Cabinet colleagues, the information supplied by Minister for Defence Alan Shatter shows. The total cost of the Taoiseach’s usage of the jets is €497,000 since March 2011, based on the time he spent in the air and the hourly cost of flying each aircraft.

His St Patrick’s Day trip last March to Chicago, South Bend, Indiana, New York and Washington clocked up 17.5 hours of flying time and cost over €66,000 – far more than the cost of tickets on scheduled air services.

The Government’s main long-haul jet, a Gulfstream IV, was used by the Taoiseach 22 times out of a total of 31 journeys by Ministers. It has a capacity for 14 passengers and is the only jet flown by the Air Corps that is capable of flying to the US, Africa and the Middle East. It costs €3,790 an hour to fly.

In opposition, Mr Kenny frequently criticised the previous government’s use of the jets, suggesting that Ministers should take cheaper commercial flights.

Of other Ministers, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore made a total of 10 journeys. Mr Shatter used the jets six times, while Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney travelled to Algiers and Oran on one of his two journeys on board the aircraft.