SHARE

Prince Charles reportedly used the aircraft to fly to Romania, where he has business interests in tourist cottages, forcing the Prime Minister to charter an expensive private aircraft.

Theresa May is visiting the Middle East to “woo” local governments.

The refitted Voyager is usually tasked with flying senior ministers to global events and summits and is still fully capable of its original role as a tanker.

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.

According to the Independent, Clarence House said because the prince had booked his trip before the Prime Minister’s he was entitled to use the RAF Voyager A330.

It’s also reported that the Queen and Prince Charles have first priority on the transport aircraft.

Interior of RAF Voyager
The interior of the refitted aircraft.

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.

The refit involved 58 business seats being fitted with the Ministry of Defence saying this will “allow it to transport sizeable business delegations”.

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.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sure that flying in an A330 fits in well with the Prince’s declared position on reducing everyone’s CO2 emissions. I don’t object to him flying the flag abroard, I just wish he wouldn’t try to lecture us about how we use energy at home.

  2. Given security arrangements etc, you’d think a spare would be available in the event one was unable to fly or otherwise unavailable.

    Given the multi use nature and the cost savings would be worth another conversion or talking to the Germans about the ones they are going to store on the tarmac.

  3. Yes, as said, could do with a spare. I like the idea in case of need, that the transport aircraft for ministers and royals could refuel their own escorts in flight.

    Anyway, bearing in mind the forthcoming deployment of 4 Typhoons in Romania, perhaps this could be made a dual purpose logistics flight.

  4. I thought the VIP conversion was a great idea but always thought that, at least for the PM, it was done in a half-hearted way, perhaps because of fear of public backlash of which there was some anyway, or at least the press tried to whip some up.

    One can see from the pictures that a big area of cabin has been converted into quite a lot of seats that are equivalent to a fairly basic long haul business class seats. As a U.K. citizen if my PM or other very senior minister is flying off to a crucial meeting I want him or her to be as well rested as possible on arrival and not have their performance compromised in any way.

    Seating doesn’t really matter much on short-haul but for long haul I would have though it would have been better to have more of a 3-tier airline structure with seats of the type shown for senior officials, economy or premium economy at the back for junior officials and the press pack, and first class being a proper cabin and bed for the most senior VIP on the flight. I’m not talking about the sort of bling that someone like Trump or an African dictator would probably go with, maybe something more like a captain’s cabin on a submarine but with wardrobe and personal storage space replaced by a bigger table for in-flight meetings with a handful of people in a more private environment.

    In fairness I think the existing setup is a two tier arrangement. A rear cabin for the press pack can just be seen in the background of the photo I think but splitting that forward cabin into VIP cabin and the rest, possibly getting the space by having more rows of basic seats in the back and fewer rows of those flat seats as shown, would have been the way I would have done it.

  5. The opening paragraph is slightly unfair IMHO as the prince was on State duties representing the Queen in Eastern Europe and why he was entitled to use the Voyager and why it was converted.

    Had he been on a private visit to Romania on business he would not have had use of the Voyager.

    But it does seem a bit of a SNAFU to arrange two trips of State value on the same week. And surely the PM going on a longer trip with attendant media to the Middle East, with the Prince using a smaller charter aircraft, was a better bet for the Voyager?

    Given our new global path we are following post Brexit I also think they should have outshopped that Voyager in the old RAF colours of white top and blue lightning stripe down the side and stuck a Union Flag on the tail. It could still refuel aircraft just as well. The VC10s looked the dogs gonads …

  6. This is not acceptable; I flew with the PM to India and the great benefit of the Voyager is that it can take a large number of economy and business class passengers along at minimal cost. That means the PM can be accompanied by trade delegations from a broad range of industry, not just large multinationals. Prince Charles should be travelling in the small hired aircraft, right now we need to get anyone who is willing to export every assistance to do so.

    By the way, the RAF crew on the Voyager were superb.

  7. Typical misappropriation of RAF aircraft. The PM should have told HRH to find another means of travel on what was non state business. It’s very important that our PM travels first class, to get Brexit done and dusted. If HRH makes a state visit then the Voyager would be appropriate.

    • Maurice10 – With respect HRH was on State duties deputising (as he increasingly is for his elderly mother) visiting 3 countries in Eastern Europe. The report above is unfair in that it infers he only went to Romania and only on private business. That was not true.

      However given the distances of the two trips I would have thought it would have been cheaper to charter a small jet for HRH and leave the PM the Voyager. And what happened to the BAE 146 CCMk2 and CMk3 operated by No 32 (The Royal) Squadron? An Ideal aircraft for a European trip surely?

  8. No problem with HRH using the aircraft if it is a state visit.
    I suspect that as this article was in the Independent, a typically anti monarchy anti UK in general paper much like the Guardian, it’s another bash the royal family effort.

  9. My view is so what? The RAF needs to have more than 1 plane able to take VIPS to destinations around the world.

  10. Maybe in the future the pm should, whenever possible, sail to a hosting conference on one of our few and precious warships. Maybe then the government would not be so damn ” sea blind” they cannot see the perilous state the Royal navy is in, under this conservative government.
    Time to get building and putting our rich chubby hands into our pockets to properly arm, equip and man our armed forces appropriately. Lets go to 3% gdp to defence budget ratio and chop back the foreign aid budget substantially to help pay for adequate defence and repair the damage done to our armed forces. Will take 10-15 years to do but sadly i think there is no political will or even awareness of the danger we are now all in due to the whittling away of our national defences.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here