Blair to get own US-style 'Air Force One' planes

Iran Materials 20 June 2006 17:45

(IRNA) - After nine years in office, Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to go ahead with his own US-style 'Air Force One' planes to take him on official trips, according to the BBC.

Blair currently uses chartered planes as well as the ageing Queen's Flight, which has provoked controversy after it was disclosed that the facility has often been used to fly him and his family on holiday trips, reports Trend.

US leaders have had their own planes since 1999, known as Air Force One. President George W Bush currently uses two Boeing 747-200B planes with the tag.

The BBC said that the British premier was likely to get two planes also, one for long-hauls with 70 seats and a 15-seater for shorter flights.

The planes will not be bought outright, but taken on a long lease and are expected to cost around Pnds 12.3 million (Dlrs 20 m) a year - about Pnds 2.7m more than the current arrangement, it reported.

The BBC's news site said that the Royal Family will also have use of the new aircraft, but like government departments, "they will pay the full cost of travel - a similar arrangement to chartering and not just fuel and staffing costs."

It believed that the long-haul plane was likely to be wide-bodied, with a separate VIP area and kitted out for modern communications, which will be used in place of the British Airways 777 currently chartered by his office.