'Blair Force One' plan is grounded by Brown

It was nicknamed "Blair Force One", an airliner that would transport the former prime minister around the globe in style.

The £12.3m-a-year plane, bristling with communications and security equipment, had been compared to the majestic aeroplane used by American presidents since 1944.

But yesterday Gordon Brown grounded for good his predecessor's plans to lease a wide-bodied jet to fly the prime minister, senior ministers and members of the Royal Family on international missions. The Department for Transport (DfT) said the proposal to acquire a full-sized airliner to convey Mr Brown and his entourage was too expensive and should be ditched. It also said the Royal Flight, provided by the RAF 32 Squadron, would be scrapped.

Instead Mr Brown, senior ministers and the Royal Family will rely on chartered jets for international travel, while the Royal Household will be given grants to buy a small 15-seat executive jet to convey them and senior ministers around Britain.

No 10 denied yesterday that Mr Brown had vetoed the Blair Force One project, saying the decision to rule out the scheme was the result of a detailed business case study by the DfT.

The plan was floated nearly two years ago by Sir Peter Gershon, the Government's efficiency adviser, who said Britain was the only major Western government without a full-size jet.

The plane, likely to have been an 80-seat Boeing 737, was to have been equipped with a ministerial bed and office space. But it ran into strong criticism from MPs angry at the cost, while Mr Brown, then Chancellor, was thought to oppose the scheme.

Mr Brown's official spokesman said yesterday that the Prime Minister had been happy with the original recommendation but stressed that the decision to abandon the scheme had been taken on economic grounds. He said Mr Brown usually travelled by train or car within the UK.

A new official executive jet will be bought by the Royal Household, although the transport department will fund the project.

A statement by Transport minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said there had been "substantial, above-inflation increases in the cost of buying and operating commercial aircraft, with high price premiums currently being demanded and paid for early delivery."

Mr Fitzpatrick added: "I am today recommending that the needs of the users of this service can best be met through procuring a small aircraft for official travel within the UK, chartered air services for longer journeys involving small parties and a continuation of existing arrangements with UK airlines for journeys involving large parties.

"This approach ensures better value for money for the taxpayer while also minimising the environmental impact.

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, welcomed the decision to scrap an "expensive status symbol". He said: "It perhaps shows the Government is starting to reel in the worst of its excesses."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week