Study recommends the move, what do you think?

The UK government has confirmed it is to acquire two executive jets for the use of the country's prime minister, Tony Blair, and other ministers.

A study commissioned by the administration has concluded that it would be cost-effective to acquire two used aircraft. One is likely to be a 70-seat widebody airliner-class business jet.  The second aircraft would be a 15-seater business jet, a statement from the UK government's cabinet office reveals. Formal approval is expected later this month.

There is unconfirmed speculation that the UK would acquire a long-range airliner, such as Boeing 777 or Airbus A330/A340 rather than the 737-based Boeing Business Jet or A319-based Airbus Corporate Jet favoured by other European heads of government, reflecting the current incumbent's long haul travel schedule. Blair leases a 777-200 from UK carrier British Airways at commercial rates for long haul voyages.

Any aircraft acquired would have to be completed with a range of avionics and countermeasures, to protect the occupants, at an additional cost of around $3 million. The aircraft will not be bought outright, but acquired on a long lease.

The two wholly-owned aircraft would be operated instead of the mixture of commercial airline services and Royal Air Force jets in which ministers currently travel. The UK is unusual in Europe in not having a dedicated government transport aircraft, although the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, has her own BAe 146s, operated by 32 Sqn of the RAF, to which ministers have access.

Since 1944 US presidents have had their own aircraft, currently two Boeing 747-200Bs, known as Air Force One when occupied, leading some to dub the UK prime minister's proposed aircraft 'Blair Force One'. The Royal Family would also have access to the new aircraft under plans.

Some governments use larger aircraft for their heads of state, such as this Bahraini 747SP in VIP configuration pictured below this month at Los Angeles international airport.

Bahrain B747-400SP VIP W445
© Roy Lock 

Flight would like to hear your views of whether head-of-state aircraft provide good value for tax-payers in your country. Email us at

Flight group editor Kieran Daly has his own view on how UK prime minister Tony Blair would be damned if he did chose a replacement for the Queen's Flight, but equally damned if he didn't.

Source: Flight International