September 2, 2022, 2:31 p.m. | Updated: September 2, 2022, 3:06 p.m.
A dozen Foreign Office officials took a sightseeing trip aboard the Prime Minister’s official jet, which was described as “shameful beyond words” by Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry.
Officials laid out a red carpet to board the plane, which the Foreign Office said had alcoholic beverages on board, before the plane took off half an hour later at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday 31 august.
The Sun reports that the £80million luxury jet then made a 700 mile round trip to the Scottish borders – via the Lake District – while serving a fine meal to guests, before the plane set sail. returns to Stansted at 2.34 p.m.
The theft was estimated to cost around £50,000 and the plane is believed to have emitted around 300kg of carbon dioxide during the flight.
According to a government source, officials joined the “maintenance flight” to “ensure that, following a recent reconfiguration of the aircraft, it would still meet departmental requirements”.
But an aviation expert, who did not want to be named, told The Sun the maintenance flight would have lasted just 45 minutes.
“This trip could have been done in, say, 45 minutes. It’s just to make sure the plane is doing everything right,” he said.
“It’s like when you pull out a car that hasn’t been driven for a while to make sure the brakes and other important things are working.”
Shadow Commerce Secretary Emily Thornberry said the trip aboard the jet – which has cream leather seats, faux wood paneling and luxury crystal glasses – was “shameful beyond the words”:
“It would be utterly shameful behavior at the best of times, but in the midst of our country’s current crisis, it is shameful beyond words,” she said.
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John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, added: ‘Taxpayers will wonder why the paper pushers had the privilege of running a government jet.
Flight data shows the plane’s last trip was on July 21, from Darlington to Stansted – the government said it had to be retired by Sunday as it was due to fly within 45 days.
The website of the jet’s operator, Titan Airways, says it specializes in “bespoke charter air travel” and offers a “wide range of in-flight menus and packages” that can be “tailored to your needs”.
Titan Airways did not respond to a request for comment.