August 11, 2014 7:12 pm

Critics call for Alberta’s fleet of planes to be grounded

CALGARY- Pressure is mounting for the province to get rid of its fleet of government planes, in the wake of an expense scandal surrounding former premier Alison Redford.

An auditor general’s report found the four planes cost Alberta taxpayers more than $9 million in 2012, and estimated that commercial flights would have only cost half of that.

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Those vying for the PC leadership are divided on the issue.

“I have been very clear: I don’t think the government should be running duplicate service between Edmonton and Calgary. We have commercial companies that provide hourly service and elected officials should be flying those flights,” said Jim Prentice. “But clearly we need planes to reach more remote parts of the province.”

Thomas Lukaszuk said he would review the program if he became the next premier, while Ric McIver is set on axing it, saying “I am prepared to eliminate these planes and use commercial alternatives.”

Political analysts think the PCs will be hard pressed to come up with a reason to keep the planes.

“A reduced fleet at the most is what they could justify, and even that will be difficult to maintain,” says Lori Williams from Mount Royal University. “I think what they are going to have to look at is scrapping the fleet and exploring other options and more oversight.”

Alberta’s fleet of planes includes a twin engine Dash 8 that seats up to 24 people, and three Beechcraft King Air planes that seat eight.

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