Dáil Éireann - Volume 476 - 13 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Ministerial Travel.

144. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Defence the number of flying hours of air transport for the Taoiseach and all Ministers in 1996; the average cost per hour; the basis on which costs are accumulated; the comparative figures for 1992; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7208/97]

Minister for Defence (Mr. Barrett): The ministerial air transport service is provided by the Air Corps using a Gulfstream IV jet aircraft, Government Jet. A Beech Super Kingair 200 turboprop aircraft is also made available from time to time mainly to a limited number of destinations in Europe.

In 1996 these aircraft flew a total of 1,180 hours in connection with the transport of the Taoiseach and all Ministers, including Ministers of State. In addition to this a further 445 hours were provided by an air taxi service in connection with the EU Presidency. In 1992 a total of 1,012 hours was flown in connection with the transport of the Taoiseach and all Ministers, including Ministers of State.

With regard to costs, my Department now follows the normal practice in the aviation business [892] to cost aircraft by reference to the cost per flying hour under either of two headings: (a) the direct cost, i.e., the costs which are additional to those associated with having the aircraft and which only arise when the aircraft is flown or (b) the total cost, i.e., the direct cost plus the costs associated with having the aircraft. The figures currently being used by the Department in respect of the relevant aircraft types are as follows:

Type

Direct Cost

Total Cost

£

£

Gulfstream IV

1,320

3,850

Beech Kingair.

   405

   850

For different periods during 1992 the ministerial air transport service was, due to changes in aircraft operated by the Air Corps, provided by four different aircraft viz. a HS 125-700, a Gulfstream III, a Gulfstream IV and a Beech Kingair. This mix of aircraft would invalidate any cost comparisons between 1992 and 1996.