By Lethbridge Herald on September 16, 2014.
Premier Jim Prentice is taking steps to take government aircraft out of the skies.
According to a government press release, Prentice and his newÂ Cabinet has concluded government-owned planes are not an appropriate way to meet the need of accessing remote rural communities, and the ATS fleet will be sold. The air fleet will be disposed of in a manner that offers the most cost-effective travel alternative, realizes the value of the assets, and treats staff respectfully, the press release added.
â€œThe Alberta government is no longer in the business of owning planes,â€ said Prentice. â€œI have instructed officials to begin an RFP that will provide best overall value to access communities where the distance is too far to drive or commercial flights are not available.â€
Effective immediately, the premier ministers will be expected to fly commercially whenever possible, according to the release, which added there will be a transition period pending the closing of the RFP. In the interim, access to government and chartered flights for ministers will be considered when commercial options are not available and will require prior approval from the Premierâ€™s Office. The premier has instructed government officials to work closely to assist staff affected by the sale of the ATS planes.
Last monthâ€™s Special Duty Report from Albertaâ€™s Auditor General identified several misuses of government aircraft. The report also showed the ATS program cost $3.9 million more than comparable travel alternatives in 2012.