Senior officials warned that reliability issues afflicting the government’s ailing jet had become “intolerable” with the risk of Taoiseach Micheal Martin getting “stuck” overseas for an extended period.
The €8 million Learjet has been repeatedly out of service over the past year and a half with the Department of Defence earlier this year told to hire a charter plane for a trip to Paris and London by the Taoiseach and a delegation.
In internal emails, the Department of the Taoiseach said the hiring of that executive jet – understood to have cost a five-figure sum – had been done because there was no other choice.
An email from Assistant Secretary to the Government Dermot Woods to senior colleagues said: “I must emphasise the strong reluctance with which this course of action is taken, particularly given the additional costs that are entailed, but the recent experiences have made the MATS [Ministerial Air Transport] situation intolerable.
“The Taoiseach’s essential travel to and from Berlin and Brussels recently put this matter into very stark relief again and it is my strong view that things can’t be allowed to continue as they are.”