Liz Truss ...
That nagging thought, that ministerial travel is paid for by We The People out of our taxes, might have eaten away at most citizens, but today’s Tory Party, led as it is by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who appears unconcerned at spaffing the odd million or several up the wall, is different. And so we arrive at the recent globe-trotting exploits of Liz Truss, who has somehow become Foreign Secretary.
Ms Truss recently travelled to Australia. But she did not lower herself to slumming it with the Hoi Polloi on BA, Emirates or Qantas. Instead, she used the Government’s second “Brexit Jet”, an Airbus A321 which has been suitably re-liveried for the role. When news of this largesse emerged, the usual spin was deployed: it was necessary for security purposes, she and her team could sit together, and it was just sitting there at Stansted.
... not only used this A321 VIP aircraft ...
But then the story was examined in a little more detail, and it got worse: the A321 is not a long-haul design, and so would have to make at least two refuelling stops between the UK and Oz, which on the return journey were Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. The Government does not own the aircraft; it is wet leased from Titan Airways and is costing the taxpayer (that means you and I) a cool £75 million. For a lease claimed to be lasting just two years.
An A321 could be bought outright for £79 million, and would be available for all of its design life. Worse still, it seems there was no competition, as Andy Northwood (thread HERE) pointed out last August. “The Cabinet Office … used an existing contract with a Bradford-based travel agent called Corporate Travel Management (North) Ltd … Onto this they tacked a £75M(!) amendment to provide the VIP A321 for the next 2 years”.
... but also this privately chartered RJ-85
This temporary addition to the Government flight, though, is not the only exhibition of largesse from Trussair. The Foreign Secretary recently visited Northern Ireland, but somehow all those scheduled services weren’t good enough for her. No, she went by private charter, from Biggin Hill, on an Avro RJ-85 of Jota Aviation.
Who they? As one observant Tweeter pointed out, “Truss is flying by Jota Aviation which is owned by Simon Dolan, the keen anti-mask, anti-lockdown champion who bought the court action against lockdowns … A keen Brexiter who moved to Monaco and moved Jota to Europe”. So Trussair is keeping it all in the happy Brexiteer family.
Meanwhile, those browsing the websites of Ryanair and Easyjet for the least expensive options for their next trip to southern Spain or the Algarve might have something to say about such profligacy. The excuse deployed when an A330 was re-liveried for Government use was that it also served as a refuelling aircraft, so the £900k cost was not such bad value for money. That A321, and continuing use of private charters, may not be.
They party during lockdown, use taxpayer-funded cars, have Government residences in the country, fly on their own executive jets, and take us all for mugs. Same old Tories.
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