The Alberta’s taxpayer-funded Government’s fleet of airplanes flew empty 230 times in 2008.
Now, I have no problem with the Government owning and using airplanes, but it should be as cost and time efficient as possible, and this doesn’t seems to be the case:
“Government officials have said an Edmonton-Calgary flight in one of the fleet’s Beechcraft King-Air planes costs about $3,000. That works out to about $1,500 a seat, if there’s just two passengers.“
A WestJet Edmonton-Calgary return-flight would cost an estimated $342.65. That’s over $1,100 more affordable (if the $1,500 is referring to a return flight, which I’m not sure that it is). The Edmonton Journal article reports that Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong took 94 one-way flights last year, and Premier Ed Stelmach took 93 flights in 2008 and 111 in 2007 (often between Edmonton and Calgary).
It’s probably pretty cool to have access to your own fleet of airplanes, but if the PCs are serious about trimming costs (a position which seems to change by the week), they should start with their own perks.
On the topic of the taxpayer-funded Government airplanes, the RCMP are continuing their investigation (which included raids of Alberta Justice and Service Alberta offices) into criminal conduct in the falsification of a misleading government memo submitted into a 2005 public inquiry conducted by Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.
The public inquiry attempted to determine why Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation delayed release of the flight logs of the taxpayer-funded airplanes, and 2007, the Privacy Commissioner ruled (pdf) that the PC Government deliberately withheld the flight log information for political purposes until after the 2004 election.