In the past year and a half John Key has clocked up nearly a full week of flights on RNZAF aircraft. The bill for the more than 125 hours of flights extends into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apart from a few flights to Christchurch, it appears the main reason Key has been using our air force as his private taxi service is to get to photo-ops.
[Papers] show Mr Key has used the Iroquois helicopters 10 times for a total of 29.9 flying hours over the period [August 2009 to the end of March]. That doesn’t include the trip he took two weeks ago from Auckland to Hamilton in order to attend the V8 Supercar races and be back in time for a golf club dinner… The Herald understands the flying hours do not include the choppers’ flying time between their base in Ohakea and the Prime Minister’s departure and arrival points.
Well, that puts paid to the lie Key’s office was spreading earlier this week that Key had used to Iroquois only four times in total. They cost at least $900 per hour to fly, so that’s $30,000 worth of flights, not counting the hour or two the choppers have to fly to and from their base at Ohakea by Palmerston North to wherever the pick up and drop-off points are.
The total does include five Iroquois flights taken in and around Christchurch since the February 22 earthquake.
And the other 7 – photo-ops:
Mr Key’s non-emergency Iroquois flights include a November 2010 trip to Karapiro for the World Rowing Championships, and in January this year to the Parachute Christian music festival near Hamilton where he appeared and sang a song.
A couple of thousand to fly Key in and a few hundred in his wages at the same time. Did we elect the world’s most expensive karaoke act in 2008? Or did we employ a Prime Minister?
Mr Key’s use of the Iroquois, however, is dwarfed by his use of the Air Force’s Beechcraft Kingair twin engine aircraft which he used 32 times for a total of 96.6 hours. Most of those flights were to Wellington.
So, Key is ordering the Air Force well in advance (this clearly isn’t a last minute operation) to fly a plane from Palmy to wherever he is and then fly all the way back to Wellington. What an extravagant waste of resources. There can be few places in New Zealand where it is easier to get the Air Force to come pick you up than either drive to an airport and get a commercial flight or rent a private aircraft. And Key is doing this about once a fortnight.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain so that moving from photo-op to photo-op is slightly more convenient for Key. When he cuts some item of spending that matters to you in next month’s budget, remember this.