The Gulfstream IV jet operates to and from Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel or Dublin Airport, depending on the mission profile and whichever location is most suited to the overall needs of the travelling group. The mission profile may dictate landings-take-off from Dublin Airport for a number of reasons. The limitations of the navigation approach aids in Baldonnel mean that the aircraft sometimes has to divert to Dublin Airport where the approach aids allow aircraft to land in much poorer weather conditions. When the Gulfstream IV is departing on a transatlantic or transcontinental flight it may require a longer runway than is available at Baldonnel. Due to runway or airfield maintenance at Baldonnel, the aircraft would have to operate out of Dublin, as was the case for a three-month period during 2002 when all flights departed from Dublin Airport due to the runway being resurfaced at Baldonnel. Decisions in relation to these issues are made by the Air Corps on operational and safety grounds.
The vast majority of ministerial flights, particularly over the past few years, have departed from Baldonnel. The number of flights made by the Gulfstream IV jet between Baldonnel and Dublin Airport in each of the past five years is as follows: 1998, 28 Baldonnel to Dublin flights and 36 from Dublin to Baldonnel; 1999, 31 Baldonnel to Dublin flights and 32 from Dublin to Baldonnel; 2000, 30 Baldonnel to Dublin flights and 31 from Dublin to Baldonnel; 2001, 15 Baldonnel to Dublin flights and 14 from Dublin to Baldonnel; 2002, nine Baldonnel to Dublin flights and 17 from Dublin to Baldonnel.
The Deputy can see from the figures that there has been a steady decline in the number of such short hops undertaken. In any event, these flights represent only a small percentage of the overall number of flights undertaken by the Gulfstream IV aircraft. Some 92% of flights originate from Baldonnel.