BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 16:23 GMT

'Blair Force One' plans scrapped

Tony Blair leaving plane
The plans were put forward when Tony Blair was in Downing Street

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has scrapped plans to buy two private jets to fly him and the Royal Family around the world, the government has said.

Instead, only a small plane for use around the UK will be purchased.

The original plan, put forward in 2006 when Tony Blair was prime minister, had been expected to cost 100m.

The decision not to buy the jets - nicknamed "Blair Force One" - was disclosed in a written statement to MPs by the Department for Transport.

It said there had been "substantial increases in the cost of buying and operating commercial aircraft" since the idea was first raised.

It also pointed out that the new Ministerial Code - introduced by Mr Brown when he entered No 10 last summer - sets out that scheduled flights should be used wherever possible.

'Value for money'

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "I am today recommending that the needs of the users of this service can best be met through procuring a small aircraft for official travel within the UK, chartered air services for longer journeys involving small parties, and a continuation of existing arrangements with UK airlines for journeys involving large parties.

"This approach ensures better value for money for the taxpayer whilst also minimising the environmental impact of royal and ministerial air travel, producing an estimated 10% saving on CO2 emissions."

Blair Force One was simply an expensive status symbol
Norman Baker, Lib Dems

The Royal Household will be responsible for procuring the small plane.

Mr Blair is believed to have endorsed the proposal for two dedicated jets - a Boeing 737 and smaller executive jet - as one of his last acts in office.

Mr Brown, as chancellor, was widely believed to have opposed the move, complaining at the cost of permanent lease arrangements.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "Blair Force One was simply an expensive status symbol to be paid for out of the public purse.

"That it has now been cancelled perhaps shows that the government is starting to reel in the worst of its excesses."

SEE ALSO
PM to get two 'Blair Force Ones'
20 Jun 06 |  UK Politics
'Blair Force One' plans get boost
11 Jun 03 |  UK Politics
Blair's flying beds hit turbulence
22 Nov 98 |  Politics
Row over Blair's flying beds
22 Nov 98 |  Politics
Blair flies into trouble
03 Aug 98 |  UK News

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific