Thursday, 5 February 2004

Questions (15, 16)

John Gormley

Question:

14 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Defence the amount of occasions the Government jet has been used since its delivery to the Government in December 2003; the purposes for which the Government jet was used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3375/04]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

38 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence the number of official trips undertaken to date by the new Bombardier Learjet 45; the destinations in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3292/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 38 together.

In July 2003 the Government decided to approve the purchase of a Bombardier Learjet 45 light business jet for the ministerial air transport service, MATS. The Learjet operates in tandem with the Gulfstream IV in providing a ministerial air transport service for members of the Government.

The Learjet 45 arrived at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, on 19 December 2003 and the Air Corps then embarked on an intensive training programme. The Learjet entered operational service as part of the ministerial air transport service on 19 January with a trip to Brussels. In the month of January it has undertaken a total of seven ministerial air transport missions.

The destinations were as follows:

Date

Destination

19 January

Brussels

20 January

Brussels

21 to 23 January

Monrovia

24 January

Zurich

25 January

Zurich

26 January

Brussels

28 January

Brussels/London

It should be noted that the GIV aircraft remains in service and has carried out 14 missions during the same period. Also, due to the demands arising from the EU Presidency it has been necessary on four occasions to make use of the Beech King aircraft which is now primarily used in a training role. My Department does not hold details in relation to the purpose of MATS trips. This is a matter for each individual Minister.