Gov. grounds Executive Air Service to save costs

By Sarah Mills
March 16, 2017 - 5:58pm

The government is grounding its Executive Air Service, the private plane service it owns, as a way to cut down on spending.

Since 1965, the Lieutenant Governor, the Premier, Cabinet Ministers, MLAs and senior government officials have flown on the planes.

As a result it means three pilots, four mechanics and two administrative staff members are losing their jobs.

“The use of Executive Air has dropped dramatically over the past decade but overhead costs have remained high,” Central Services Minister Christine Tell maintained.  

“It just doesn’t make sense in these challenging fiscal times to continue paying those high overhead costs when there are viable commercial options available in Saskatchewan to meet government travel needs.”

Elected officials and the Lieutenant Governor will now travel by vehicle or use commercial and charter flight services when air travel is required to attend meetings and events around the province.

This move will save government somewhere between $700,000 and $1 million annually.

The use of Executive Air Service is down by 73 per cent in the last decade as politicians are opting to drive or reduce costs.

Last year, government sold one of its planes for over $2 million, and selling the last two will net government even more cash.

It is estimated that with the continued drop in air travel, using a private charter service will be cheaper than the current option.

The idea to sell Executive Air Service was suggested by the NDP in the election campaign of 2016.

“We want to get some further detail on what this means, who are the planes being sold to, what sort of price do they think they will get for them," said NDP MLA Warren McCall.

"Our plans included turning a plane into an air ambulance to improve service in the north in particular, details like that we would want to know."

The last flight for Executive Air Service was on March 14 when Cabinet Ministers rushed from Saskatoon to Regina in time for the proceedings in the legislature following the bear pit session at the SARM convention.


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