LONDON, Nov 19, 2015:
Britain is to spend up to £10 million (RM65 million) converting a military plane for official use by Prime Minister David Cameron and senior ministers, according to British media onThursday.
The government is set to reveal plans to convert the A330 Voyager as part of its security and defence review on Monday, arguing that having an aircraft akin to the US “Air Force One” would be more secure and save money in the long run.
The jet — a version of the Airbus A330-200 — is a long-haul plane able to carry 160 passengers.
But critics accuse the government, which is imposing deep cuts as part of its programme to eliminate the public deficit, of hypocrisy.
“We have been looking at ways to make better use of the RAF fleet to transport senior ministers and consequently deliver savings for taxpayers,” said a government spokesman.
“We have decided to adapt one of our existing Voyager aircraft so that, in addition to its primary air tanking role, it can transport ministers and it will also be available for the Royal Family to use.”
“So David Cameron cuts tax credits and in return we buy him a £10 million private jet. So glad we’re all in it together,” wrote Twitter user fleeetstreetfox.
“Cameron gets swanky £10million ‘private jet’ – at YOUR expense,” added the Poole branch of anti-EU party UKIP.
Tony Blair was the last leader to push for a prime ministerial jet — so-called “Blair Force One” — but then Finance Minister Gordon Brown blocked the request.
The government claims the plane will save £775,000 a year in charter charges, which currently stand at around £6,700 per flying hour.
Downing Street recently paid £100,000 to hire an aircraft to take Cameron and the Royal Family to the funeral of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.