Written Answers. - Ministerial Transport.

Dan Boyle


95 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence his views on the fact that a wet lease on a Government jet for the duration of the EU Presidency will be a more sensible and economical option than outright purchase in view of the state of public finances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18872/03]

Ciarán Cuffe


101 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Defence the situation regarding the envisaged delivery date for the Government jet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18868/03]

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.

In tandem with proposals for the supply of the aircraft, tenderers were also asked to outline offers for the Gulfstream IV aircraft as at the proposed date of hand-over of the tendered aircraft or in mid-July 2004, following the EU Presidency. Offers for the Beechcraft King Air were also requested in tandem with proposals for its replacement.
Tenders were received from nine companies in respect of the long range aircraft and tenders were received from six companies for the seven to nine seater aircraft. Some tenders contained a number of proposals and, in addition, some tenders included new and preowned aircraft. The tenders are now the subject of evaluation and accordingly the Deputies will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment on that process which is ongoing. I would expect the evaluation process to be completed in or around the end of July, 2003.
The acquisition of the aircraft will be the subject of detailed cost benefit analysis, including value for money and comparison with costs associated with alternative arrangements. The responses to the tender process will determine the most advantageous system of payment. The actual cost of the acquisition of the aircraft can only be defined after the evaluation process particularly in view of the fact that preowned aircraft are a consideration.
It is expected that the new aircraft should be available for operational service by 1 October 2003.