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Pan Pan, Pan Pan, We Don’t Need New VIP Jets For 5 Trips A Year

The Taxpayers’ Union is backing calls for there being a better option than two unreliable and occasionally used 757s to transport the Prime Ministerial delegations, and is calling for investigation of leasing one of Australia’s VIP military aircraft, as and when required.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said:

“The 757s were never really fit for purpose. While they can be converted to freight carriers, they can only land in the major airports in the Pacific. That’s why the C-130 Hercules do most of the work in terms of aid and disaster relief.

“The main reason they are so unreliable is that they are just not used enough - faults often only become obvious when delegations are relying on them to get somewhere.

“Wayne Mapp’s claim this morning on Newstalk ZB that ‘no airlines are operating aircraft this old’ is totally wrong. He either doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or is shilling to justify NZDF spending taxpayer money to buy new toys. There are plenty of operating 757 still in passenger service, but they are used every day and are thus, still reliable.

“For the vast majority of international trips, Prime Ministers rightly fly commercial first or business class - something that should not change. The issue arises when Ministers want to take a large delegation, such as on trade missions. With Air NZ lacking single-isle long haul planes, and being too small an airline to have spare wide bodies for chartering, a more creative solution ought to be found.

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“New Zealand used to have a deal with the Australians to use federal VIP land transport. If we can do that for the limos, why not for the planes?

“The Australians have a fleet of two 737 Boeing Business Jets and three Challenger 604s operated by the Australian military but maintained by QANTAS.

“From a cost perspective, NZDF buying VIP jets for, at most, half a dozen trips per year is nuts.

“At least under the Key Government, the successful tenderer for long-haul preferred carrier for Ministers was QANTAS, not Air NZ, anyway. If Australia’s national carrier is good enough for commercial, why not their VIP jets?"

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