The refitted Voyager transport aircraft will be tasked with flying senior ministers to global events and summits.
The Voyager aircraft has been refitted at a cost of about £10m, in order to save about £775,000 per year as the plane will be cheaper than chartering flights, delivering significant savings for the tax payer.
The information comes to light via a written response to a parliamentary question asked by Andrew Gwynne (MP for Denton and Reddish):
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress has been made on the upgrade of a Voyager aircraft for transporting senior Ministers; and if he will make a statement.”
Answered by Philip Dunne:
“Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, the Ministry of Defence project team are working with Air Tanker Ltd and their supplier, Airbus Defence and Space, on the Voyager enhanced cabin fit and are on target to deliver this in July 2016.”
The Airbus A330 Voyager is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft with transport capabilities and is based on the civilian Airbus A330. The multi-role A330 tanker/transport has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Official flights using either Royal Squadron planes or long haul charter, cost on average £6,700 per flying hour while using a Voyager aircraft would cost £2,000. It would be available for refuelling when it wasn’t in use.
A government spokesperson said:
“As part of the government’s defence review, we have been looking at ways to make better use of the RAF fleet to transport senior ministers and consequently deliver savings for taxpayers.
We have decided to adapt one of our existing Voyager aircraft so that, in addition to its primary air tanking role, it can transport Ministers and it will also be available for the Royal family to use.”
The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330. The A330 MRTT has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.