Cost of flying government jets falls

The costs of operating the two government jets declined dramatically last year.

The Coalition uses the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft much less than its predecessors in the Fianna Fáil-led administration, figures show.

According to information provided by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the cost of operating the two aircraft last year totalled €637,095.

That compared to a cost of €1.8m in 2010 — a drop of 65%.

The two jets were used on 40 occasions in 2011, down from 81 the previous year, and flew a combined 161 hours in 2011 compared to 328.2 hours in 2010.

In a written Dáil response to Labour TD Tommy Broughan, Mr Shatter said the cost of operating the Gulfsteam jet on an hourly basis was €3,790 in 2011 compared to €7,890 in 2010.

As such, the jet cost €1.3m to operate in 2010 compared to €380,895 last year.

However, Mr Shatter said the cost per hour of operating the Learjet increased from €2,950 in 2010 to €4,200 last year, but the decreased flying resulted in its costs falling from €459,462 to €256,200 over the period.

Mr Shatter said the use of the jets cost a combined €308,465 for the first two months of this year. The Gulfstream cost €149,705 to the end of February, flying 37.8 hours, with the Learjet costing the taxpayer €158,760 after flying 37.8 hours.

Mr Shatter said a CASA maritime patrol aircraft was used infrequently when ministerial air transport was not available.

Mr Shatter himself was flown return on the CASA aircraft from Baldonnel to Luxembourg at a cost of €23,155, with the cost per hour coming to €4,210.

According to the minister, the costs per hour of the aircraft take account of maintenance, fuel, and support services such as catering, cleaning, and airport handling charges, along with associated costs such as depreciation and personnel.


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