The Department of the Taoiseach said there was no choice but to spend up to €30,000 on a charter flight for Micheal Martin because the government’s Learjet broke down so often.
Documents from the department reveal that the Air Corps had originally said smaller Pilatus aircraft could safely be used as a back-up for transport for politicians.
However, a decision was subsequently taken that the planes – despite being given the thumbs up for globe-trotting ministers and emergency transport of the sick – should not be used for either the Taoiseach or the President.
That decision was made despite a report from the Air Corps explaining how the PC-12 airplanes had among the best safety records in the world.
The report, access to which was originally refused by the Department of the Taoiseach, said the Defence Forces were happy to stand over them as a “reserve platform” for ministerial transport.
It said the Pilatus PC-12 was the best-selling single engine, turbine-powered plane in the world and was widely used by “private and charter airlines” around the globe.