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.


  1. And if its busy ferrying around the political class, it’s not available for its primary role. John Major tried to get his own Air Force One in the 90s. Happily he was seen off.

  2. Not sure we need too many of these in their primary role at present. It’s actually a role fit anyway that can be fitted to any of the airframes and of course can exploit the military equipment installed given what’s happening these days. Personally I think it’s right our monarch and PM can use an asset like this given who we are …. Lesser nations leaders have such access my if not deficated assets.

  3. Problem is though we’re already paying through the nose to ferry around the political class. These days if you’re going to a summit or to a top level state visit to a major power like America or China, you need to arrive in a big enough plane to carry not only your own staff but all the the following press pack. Also it needs to look (relatively) good for national prestige.

    I understand the consternation of the taxpayer spending yet more £££ on what looks like a perk for politicians and/or the Royal Family but this is yet another case of Britain’s bi-polar attitude to things: we want to be the best and envy countries who have things which make them look awesome and the best yet seem to hate ourselves for taking the steps to get those same things or take big steps on the world stage. We do love to dream big yet also love to talk ourselves down and staying on our own little island – no this isn’t a remain argument, just a general one whether we’re in or out of Europe!

    TL;DR version: Just pay the £10 million and save money already.

  4. There is no need for this. We don’t need an airforce one here. Complete waste of tax payers money along with all the chauffeur driven cars etc. Time our MPs came down to earth.

  5. To expect our key diplomats to fly scheduled airlines to major international meetings is ridiculous. I want our PM and senior ministers and civil servants to work hard for this country so spending £10 million quid to give them an environment where they can hold meetings at the highest security levels en-route to somewhere, have secure and reliable communications back to their UK infrastructure, or just get a few hours of privacy and comfort so that they arrive at their meetings refreshed and ready to perform at their best is a bargain.

    Also, this is NOTHING like the USA Airforce One planes. This is us getting the essential capability for a modest price tag. Money well spent.

  6. Chartered means maintenance costs are factored in and responsibility of the airline owner. Maintenance costs for the RAF are not factored into this statement of £2000. I doubt if it will be cheaper than chartered.

  7. Be positive all 4 Foreign office officials who will actually be negotiating new trade deals globally for UK post Brexit will have plenty of room.

    I sincerely hope that this aircraft will be used to its full potential


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