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Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-12NG pictured at an airshow in the UK last year. Alamy Stock Photo
Micheál Martin

Tánaiste forced to spend night in Luxembourg due to problem with Air Corps plane

Earlier this year, the Tánaiste signed off on plans to purchase a new Government jet but it is understood the process could take up to three years.

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN was forced to spend the night in Luxembourg as a result of a problem with the Air Corps plane he was due to travel home on.

As first reported by the Irish Independent, the Air Corps Pilatus PC-12 single engine aircraft that the Tánaiste was travelling on was in need of repairs and unable to take off on its return journey to Ireland. 

The Tánaiste was in Luxembourg this week for a European Foreign Affairs Council meeting. He was forced to travel home on a commercial flight as a result of the problem.

The Tánaiste was travelling on the Air Corps PC-12 plane as the Government jet was also having repairs made to it.  

When asked about the issue by The Journal today, the Tánaiste said it was “just a malfunction” with the PC-12 and added, “these things happen”. 

Earlier this year, the Tánaiste signed off on plans to purchase a new Government jet.

He told the Dáil in February that the Learjet which is used to fly the Taoiseach and other senior ministers is reaching its natural “end of life cycle”.

The Air Corps Learjet was purchased in 2004 and has been in operation since then.

Government sources have said that the procurement of the new jet could take two to three years, meaning that it will not be of benefit to the current Government. 

It is understood that the Government is looking to purchase a ten-seater aircraft.

Leasing an aircraft was ruled out due to it costing the taxpayer more money in the long term, it is believed.

While no cost has been attached yet to the new purchase, sources state smaller aircraft cost around €50 million, so the cost of the new ten-seater plane could exceed this amount.

The Government once had two jets, but the Gulfstream IV plane was sold in 2017 for €418,000.

There was controversy at the time over the sale price, given that the jet was valued at somewhere in the region of €750,000. It was bought in 1992 for €45 million.

Additional reporting from Christina Finn.

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