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Just how much does 34 Squadron cost?

By johnboy - 20 November 2013 21

The ABC is taking a hard look at the costs associated with bring entitled tory lordlings to Canberra from Perth using the local 34 Squadron’s VIP flight.

Chris Pyne has been claiming the VIP jets are cheaper than flying their lordships and retainers business class.

Sadly it doesn’t stack up:

Comparable commercial fares would have cost a maximum of $56,260 whereas the cost of sending the VIP jet to Perth would have been a minimum of $140,483 before other costs are added.

A 737 kitted out to seat 30 is probably perfect for flying the Prime Minister around the region.

But it’s getting pretty luxurious compared to business class.

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
Just how much does 34 Squadron cost?
JC 6:41 pm 21 Nov 13

RadioVK said :

You have to remember that a lot of these flights would also be used to train crew and accrue flight hours to maintain aircrew currency. It does make more sense for them to be doing it while performing some useful task rather than flying an empty aircraft in circles just to get the hours up.

Actually they aren’t. The RAAF has an agreement with Qantas, from whom the aircraft are leased. Training on the BBJ’s and also the Wedgtails which are all 737’s is done on Qantas simulators with actual flying taking place on Qantas commercial flights. When the RAAF has more pilots than RAAF flying available said pilots also fly for Qantas.

JC 6:39 pm 21 Nov 13

mossrocket said :

In addition this reveals yet another contradiction of concerns by the ABC. Only this week the ABC have expressed concerns that a leased property sits empty while PM resides at the police academy when he is in Canberra. But, they would prefer that the VIP aircraft leased at a cost of $4,871,867 pa sit idle and while politicians use domestic flights instead?

Slight difference. Flying the aircraft to ONLY pic up Liberal members at an expense greater than leaving the a/c on the ground, and depending upon who you believe greater than commercial means is a bit rich. For one if it was cheaper why not pick up Labor members too?

The idle house, here is the government paying an extra $110 a night when a more than suitable property is available to him and already paid for. This without doubt was a political stunt, never mind of course he knew and was consulted before the election about the property and was even offer the chance to inspect as possible alternative PM.

Robertson 2:20 pm 21 Nov 13

I think they should save money by cutting back on maintenance, and then let natural attrition do the rest.

Pork Hunt 12:37 pm 21 Nov 13

JC said :

MERC600 said :

A hell of a lot. But I wonder why the ABC have decided now to have a squiz at it…?

Clearly you didn’t read the first post in this thread. If that isn’t clear let me help you. 34 Squadron is there to fly around the PM and the GG, plus other VIP’s visiting the country. It can also be used to fly, senior government ministers to places where it may be difficult to get to by commercial means.

However the Abbott government used it to go to WA to pick-up WA Liberal pollies, at far greater expense than commercial means would have cost, though the government claims it was cheaper.

Now Labor didn’t do this when in power, though apparently Peter Reith used to use them a lot in the Howard years for flying around Aus and of course Howard himself used to commute from Sydney every day so he didn’t have to live in the lodge. Though as PM that was his ‘right’.

So that is why the ABC has decided to look at it NOW.

Nothing to do with the overall cost, nothing to do with its purpose in life, but all to do with why it was used by the Liberal party for this purpose when commercial would have been cheaper.I should add if it was truley about cost to the taxpayer why did they not also collect or offer to collect Labor MP’s from WA?

I started my first (of three) tours of 34 Sqn in 1986 and BAC 111 flights to and from Perth (via Adelaide) to bring pollies to Canberra for parliament were common place. Another jet used to pick up the Qld contingent.
Although they were known to us as “cabinet specials”, they did in fact carry all pollies.

Thanks mossrocket for your reasonably accurate explanation. It’s a bit like when the Navy goes to rescue sailors in the Southern Ocean, it doesn’t cost a great deal.

HiddenDragon 11:28 am 21 Nov 13

Everything old is new again:

http://www.aspg.org.au/journal/2003spring_18_2/VIP-final.pdf

While we’re in nostalgia mode, could we also please have a juicy “It wiggles, it’s shapely…” (Google the phrase) scandalette, to take our minds off the present unpleasantness with our friends to the near north?

mossrocket 10:36 am 21 Nov 13

dtc said :

You are partly but not totally right….

…The true answer is probably less than the ABC estimate but much closer to its estimate than yours.

the amount i quoted was the guesstimation of extra costs on top of any costs that are accrued whether they flew or not…

dtc 9:57 am 21 Nov 13

You are partly but not totally right.

1. most maintenance is based almost entirely on flying hours. Most maintenance contracts are based on average flying hours directing the number of staff on the maintenance crew. So flying more results in more maintenance and the need for a higher number of base line maintenance crew.

2. flying more also requires more RAAF crew to be allocated to the squadron and available to do this work. If, for example, flying hours were cut in half, then the squadron would not need as many people.

3. leasing costs are also linked to hours, although you are correct that in general it costs the same. However, most aircraft leases will (for example) have a maximum number of flying hours and over that you have to pay more. So using the aircraft for improper flights adds to that risk.

The true answer is probably less than the ABC estimate but much closer to its estimate than yours.

A_Cog 9:52 am 21 Nov 13

mossrocket said :

Shame the ABC Fact Checking unit is not accurate about facts though…

[…]

In addition this reveals yet another contradiction of concerns by the ABC. Only this week the ABC have expressed concerns that a leased property sits empty while PM resides at the police academy when he is in Canberra. But, they would prefer that the VIP aircraft leased at a cost of $4,871,867 pa sit idle and while politicians use domestic flights instead?

KA-BLAM!

Stunning backhand.

PantsMan 9:49 am 21 Nov 13

The 737 BJB 700’s have showers and a bedroom for the PM also.

mossrocket 9:32 am 21 Nov 13

Shame the ABC Fact Checking unit is not accurate about facts though…

They arrived at the $140,483 cost of using the VIP jet by the following means (all costs being calculated on a round trip of 8.25 flying hours):

Fuel and airport fees – $28,462

Cost of leasing the aircraft – $66,215

Cost of maintaining the aircraft – $45,806

They also pointed out that the final figure did not include the cost of the crew and catering. Total cost for the 8.25 hour journey – $140,483

But these are false claims for the following reasons:

1. The aircraft are not leased by the hour, or by the day even, so the leasing costs are the same whether the aircraft is in the air or on the ground.

2. The same goes for the maintenance. Although maintenance is in part determined by flying hours, it also includes periodic servicing, Even when an aircraft sits idle it has to be maintained on a regular basis.

3. And the RAF aircrew also get paid whether or not they are not flying.

Which only leaves the catering as an additional cost, which is hardly going to break the bank for the price of a cup of tea and a cracker. Meaning that the true cost of transporting the MPs, with their families, from Perth to Canberra and back by the VIP jet was $28,462 for fuel and airport fees, plus tea and crackers. Which, as Christopher Pyne pointed out, is far cheaper than the $56,260 as calculated by the ABC Fact Checker for domestic flights.

In addition this reveals yet another contradiction of concerns by the ABC. Only this week the ABC have expressed concerns that a leased property sits empty while PM resides at the police academy when he is in Canberra. But, they would prefer that the VIP aircraft leased at a cost of $4,871,867 pa sit idle and while politicians use domestic flights instead?

JC 7:17 am 21 Nov 13

MERC600 said :

A hell of a lot. But I wonder why the ABC have decided now to have a squiz at it…?

Clearly you didn’t read the first post in this thread. If that isn’t clear let me help you. 34 Squadron is there to fly around the PM and the GG, plus other VIP’s visiting the country. It can also be used to fly, senior government ministers to places where it may be difficult to get to by commercial means.

However the Abbott government used it to go to WA to pick-up WA Liberal pollies, at far greater expense than commercial means would have cost, though the government claims it was cheaper.

Now Labor didn’t do this when in power, though apparently Peter Reith used to use them a lot in the Howard years for flying around Aus and of course Howard himself used to commute from Sydney every day so he didn’t have to live in the lodge. Though as PM that was his ‘right’.

So that is why the ABC has decided to look at it NOW.

Nothing to do with the overall cost, nothing to do with its purpose in life, but all to do with why it was used by the Liberal party for this purpose when commercial would have been cheaper.I should add if it was truley about cost to the taxpayer why did they not also collect or offer to collect Labor MP’s from WA?

2604 9:24 pm 20 Nov 13

MERC600 said :

But I wonder why the ABC have decided now to have a squiz at it…

For the same reason they’ve started scrutinizing everything else the government does, as well…because the Libs are back in power. They seem to have abandoned even the pretense of being non-partisan.

RadioVK 5:06 pm 20 Nov 13

You have to remember that a lot of these flights would also be used to train crew and accrue flight hours to maintain aircrew currency. It does make more sense for them to be doing it while performing some useful task rather than flying an empty aircraft in circles just to get the hours up.

MERC600 5:05 pm 20 Nov 13

MERC600 said :

Just how much does 34 Squadron cost?

A hell of a lot. But I wonder why the ABC have decided now to have a squiz at it…? On another matter the Senate estimates mob are today grilling the ABC over many things including payments to their reporters. Some big figures mentioned. Coincidence I guess.

There are some big figures quoted for some of our better named ABC reporter types.

Best to keep away from the prying eyes of the Senate, and stick to private mobs like Fairfax,, News Limited ,, Riot.

MERC600 4:41 pm 20 Nov 13

Just how much does 34 Squadron cost?

A hell of a lot. But I wonder why the ABC have decided now to have a squiz at it…? On another matter the Senate estimates mob are today grilling the ABC over many things including payments to their reporters. Some big figures mentioned. Coincidence I guess.

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