I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 and 101 together.
The Government have decided to replace the Gulfstream IV and the Beechcraft King Air in the ministerial air transport role. The decision was necessary to meet the ever increasing demands of Government business, not least in the context of a significantly enlarged European Union. The decision to replace the aircraft is not solely related to the period of Ireland's Presidency of the EU and hence the decision was to acquire aircraft which will be operated by the Air Corps.
The two tender competitions for the acquisition of the aircraft, a long range aircraft and a smaller seven to nine seater aircraft, are now in train. The closing date for the receipt of tenders for both competitions was 30 May 2003.
The tender competitions allowed for the submission of both new and preowned aircraft and all options such as outright purchase, lease, lease purchase, or other alternatives were open for consideration.