Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 14:00 UK

Crackdown after French minister's lavish flight

Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet next to plane (file pic)
Mr Joyandet is an ally of President Nicolas Sarkozy

The French prime minister has moved to curb private jet travel by his ministers, after one of them hired a plane for 116,500 euros (£103,325).

Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet made the return trip to Martinique last month to attend an international conference on Haiti.

He called it an "exceptional" case - he had to get back for a cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon has told ministers that private flights will now have to get his prior approval.

A letter from his chief of staff, quoted by the French daily Le Monde on Friday, instructed ministers to "lead by example at a time when everyone has to make efforts".

The French president and government have a fleet of army aircraft at their disposal, but the general rule is that ministers can only use them if civilian transport is unavailable, Le Monde reports.

In a few weeks' time President Nicolas Sarkozy will be able to use an official Airbus A330, which he ordered before the economic downturn. Le Monde says the plane has been customised along the lines of the US president's Air Force One.

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