Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Executive Jet.

23.

asked the Minister for Defence the number of trained crews available for the operation of the Air Corps executive jet; the number and locations of visits made abroad in this aircraft; if he will give details of the technical back-up and support services which are available to the Air Corps abroad; and the cost of such services in the last year including airport landing fees.

24.

asked the Minister for Defence the number of hours flown by the Air Corps executive jet and the King Air aircraft in the past year; where the Taoiseach or Ministers or members of their staff were carried as passengers; the estimated hourly operational costs of these aircraft; if any payments are made by the Departments using the aircraft; and, if not, why.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 24 together.

Two fully trained crews are available. The present HS 125 aircraft has flown 93 ministerial air transport missions since it went into service in February, 1980. The airports involved were Amsterdam, Brussels, Bonn-Cologne, Belgrade, Bologna, Copenhagen, Geneva, Hamburg, Hanover, London, Luxembourg, Maastrict, Madrid, Naples, Oporto, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Venice and Warsaw. Handling agents were engaged at these airports. The cost of handling services for the year ended 31 March 1981 is estimated at £17,000.

I take it that the total cost will be borne by the Department of Defence. Is that correct?

In view of the fact that the Estimate for the Department of Defence was seriously reduced, would the Minister consider looking for recoupment from the other Departments? Did the Minister say 196 trips were involved?

No. 93 ministerial trips.

For other Ministers too?

Is there any recoupment sought from the Departments concerned?

I do not have that information, but I doubt it.

I appreciate that the Minister may not have the information but would he agree that if there is not, there should be?

It all comes from the same source, taxation.

But this money is all coming out of the Department of Defence. I believe there should be recoupment and I would like the Minister to examine it.