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Monday, January 26, 2009

air ed.

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.


Tiny Perfect Blog said...
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Curmudgeon-at-Large said...

There's major time saved by bypassing security and waiting time if you have your own aircraft. So I guess it's partly a question of how much value we place on the time of our premier and cabinet.

As for the lieutenant-governor's time, it can't be of much value to the taxpayers. If we replaced him with a rubber-stamping robot to read the speech from the throne, we could pack it away in a box between sessions. Think of the savings!

Calgary Rants said...

While it is frustrating that the "empty" planes are costing the taxpayers so much, I beleive that the PC party cannot win a PR battle on this issue no matter what method they use. I do agree with Tiny Perfect's comment that pehaps they could find some cost savings in using Charter flights, but then I am sure people would scream about those costs also.

Perhaps the old Greyhound looks good? lol...

Mark Donovan said...

I think there could be issues with flight availability, the time it takes to go through security, wait for departures, delays, etc. I travel a lot for work but nowhere near 111 times in year and I can only imagine the wear and tear not to mention wasted hours that the premier would have to put in waiting for flights.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

WHOA WHOA WHOA!? RCMP raids? Why hasn't someone been fired?

Chandler Kent said...

MPs fly commercial when they fly back and forth to their ridings. The PM and federal ministers use government planes when they are going to announcements, events, etc., which are not in their ridings. Mark Donovan is right - it is not an effective use of time for the Premier to go to YYC or YEG and wait. In addition, commercial flights don't go to many Alberta destinations. Finally, the story made a great deal about how many times certain ministers and backbenchers flew, but wasn't very specific on how often the plane flew full, or nearly full.

Funny, I don't remember the air fleet being a big deal for your former leader during the last election, Dave. But, if it is, I'm sure looking forward to the sight of Premier Swann (God forbid!) getting around the province in his preferred mode of transportation (see yesterday's Calgary Sun) at its regulated maximum speed of 25 mph.

Calgary Rants said...

Tiny Perfect...My Bad... That is what I meant...Commercial Flights.

Anonymous said...

Commercial flights are taken for out-of-province destinations.

But like some posters have already laid out, it is hard to get an Air Canada flight to Manyberries, or Camrose, or Barrhead etc.

Many MLAs, of all three sitting parties, take the bus. I believe Red Arrow is preferred over Greyhound.

It could also be noted that the bru-ha over "empty flights" is only possible because for the last two years or so, the flights logs are easily available on the Government of Alberta's website. No need for access to information filings like in the Klein era.