Blair Airways *UPDATED*
Now that it has been revealed that Blair and his ministers have been treating the RAF like a free taxi service they're desperately trying to pretend it's cheaper than other methods of transport.
Ten, fifteen years ago I was involved in mountain rescue in the Lake District and we were told that the cost of a Sea King helicopter was a grand per half hour. Now allowing for inflation and the huge increase in aviation fuel, it's reasonable to epect that to have more than doubled.
So what does a jet cost? You've got the actual cost of fuel, wear and tear, maintenance along with the wages of the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and whatever staff is deemed necesary to wait on the Minister's wants and needs.
That's cheaper than Eurostar? Than Ryanair?
But what sums up the rottenness at the heart of New Labour than Margret Beckett, Minister for the Environment flying to and from her Midlands home as often as she can?
Update: - From David, one of our contributors:
The cost per royal mile flown 20 pounds.
BAe 146: 10,428 pounds per hour
BAe 125: 4,662 pounds per hour
BAe 146: 1,213 pounds per hour
BAe 125 622 pounds per hour
Because Bliar & Co use the aircraft more than HMQ, the fixed cost element per hour will be less but not enough to make it competitive - and the figures are 5 years old.
The variable costs are now going to be much more. Assuming a full aircraft the 146, (19 pax) the cost per passenger per hour on the old figures is 63.42 and the 125 (7 pax) is 94.57 pounds
The current BA Club class return fare London-Brussels is 530.60 pounds so for 7 pax that would be a total of 3,714.20 pounds. Using the old figures and assuming a flight time of 1.15hr each way, the cost for using the BAe125 would be 13,210 pounds. With no increase in variable cost, the fixed cost element would have to drop to 862 pounds per hour and I doubt even Bliar & Co could use the aircraft that much.
In other words, the government is spinning faster than the turbines in the aircraft engines
Guido Fawkes is on the case.
Meanwhile, Michael "Tessa never put a foot wrong" White is spinning desperately, using the political pages of the Guardian to defend his beloved Margaret Beckett...
Hang in there Michael, I'm sure your peerage is on the way!