Print This Page
Home > Document
MINISTERIAL AIR TRANSPORT SERVICE

Background:

The Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) provides the Government and the President with an independent, flexible and effective air transport service to assist in meeting national and international obligations.

The service is more flexible than commercial air travel in that it is not bound to set routes, timetables or schedules. This flexibility can be very important in a wide variety of situations. For example, where EU meetings end up taking longer than originally expected it is vital that departure times can be altered as required at short notice. There are also frequent occasions on which Ministers may have to attend or return to attend important meetings or events in the State, such as Cabinet meetings, Dáil or Seanad Debates or Oireachtas Committees, and this is only possible by use of the MATS. The service helps Ministers to fulfil all of their duties, both at home and abroad, to the greatest extent possible.

The service also has the distinct advantage of being able to operate from military air bases with all the flexibility that this brings e.g. Government jets can fly closer to many intended destinations using military rather than civil airports and this can lead to substantial savings in travel time. The service offers a degree of privacy for the conduct of official business during flights which is not available on commercial flights, and allows Ministers to carry out their duties with the maximum of efficiency having regard to their increasingly busy portfolios.The availability of the service for special tasks in times of crisis ensures independence of movement on critical occasions.

The Ministerial Air Transport Service was primarily provided by the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft, which were specifically acquired for that purpose. The Gulfstream IV, which was acquired in December 1991, had a capacity to carry 14 passengers and could be tasked with long haul missions to destinations such as the United States, Africa and the Middle East was in service until July 2014. The Learjet, which entered service in January 2004 as a replacement for the Beechcraft Super King Air, has a capacity to carry 7 passengers and can be tasked with short and medium haul missions to the UK and Europe continues to provide the service.

The use of any Air Corps aircraft for Ministerial transport is subject to the authorisation of An Taoiseach.


Cost :

The Department of Defence follows the normal practice in the aviation business of costing aircraft by reference to the cost per flying hour under each of two headings:

(a) The variable cost, which comprises costs incurred only when the aircraft is flown including maintenance, fuel and support services i.e. it does not include costs associated with having the aircraft; and

(b) The total cost, which comprises the variable cost plus the fixed cost associated with having the aircraft. The latter comprises personnel costs and depreciation. Personnel costs are the costs associated with flying personnel for the applicable ranks. Depreciation is calculated taking account of the cost or value of the aircraft, less any residual value, divided by the useful life of the aircraft.

For clarity, an additional average fixed cost per hour column has been included in the tables below showing the cost associated with having the aircraft. These costs will be the same regardless of how frequently the aircraft if flown. This average fixed cost per hour, along with the average variable cost per hour, gives the average total cost per hour of flying the aircraft.

The average hourly rates were updated in 2013 (the previous revisions were in 2009 and 2011) to reflect changes in the elements used to calculate the costs, such as fuel costs, personnel costs, depreciation, support costs and flying hours.

In terms of flying hours, the overall hours flown by the MATS aircraft have reduced significantly in recent years and because of the use of the average hourly cost model (see footnotes below) this reduction in use has resulted in the cost per hour of individual flights appearing greater than in the past.

Where there is a significant reduction in MATS missions, additional training flights are required in order to bring pilots up to the minimum hours that they need to maintain their currency on the aircraft. A minimum of 360 flying hours per aircraft per annum is required to maintain pilot currency. Value for money is maximized where these flying hours are achieved through operational MATS flying rather than through separate training flights.

In addition to the MATS, these aircraft undertake air ambulance, humanitarian and Search and Rescue Top-Cover missions. The cost of these missions are included in the figures below.

Costs per flying hour published in 2015

Aircraft
Average Fixed Cost per
Hour 1
Average Variable Cost Per Hour 2
Average Total Cost Per Hour 3
Learjet
1,730
2,050
3,780


Costs per flying hour published in 2013

Aircraft
Average Fixed Cost per
Hour 1
Average Variable Cost Per Hour 2
Average Total Cost Per Hour 3
Gulfstream
620
4,140
4,760
Learjet
2,370
2,570
4,940


Costs per flying hour published in 2011

Aircraft
Average Fixed Cost per
Hour
Average Variable Cost Per Hour
Average Total Cost Per Hour
Gulfstream
520
3,270
3,790
Learjet
2,260
1,940
4,200


Costs per flying hour published in 2009

Aircraft
Average Fixed Cost per Hour
Average Variable Cost Per Hour €
Average Total Cost Per Hour €
Gulfstream
3,840
4,050
7,890
Learjet
1,680
1,270
2,950


(Between the 2009 and 2011 the GIV aircraft cost saw a substantial reduction in the hourly rate. This is due to the fact that, because of its age, it is no longer appropriate for depreciation to be included in the costs for this aircraft).

1 The average Fixed Cost per hour rate is calculated by dividing the total sum of depreciation and personnel costs by the total number of hours flown during the relevant period. The depreciation and personnel costs associated with having the aircraft will be incurred, and will remain the same, regardless of how frequently the aircraft is flown. Accordingly they are referred to as fixed costs.

2 The average Variable Cost per hour is calculated by dividing the total of all the costs that arise only when the aircraft is flown, such as maintenance, fuel, catering etc., by the total number of hours flown during the relevant period.

3 The average Total Cost per hour rate is the sum of the average Fixed Cost per hour and the average Variable Cost per hour.


Details of Ministerial Air Transport Use:
Details of Ministerial use of the Service since 2008 are set out in the attached tables.
Link to usage 2017
Link to usage 2016
Link to usage 2015
Link to usage 2014
Link to usage 2013
Link to usage 2008 - 2012

Image of the Department of Defence
Contact Us

Department of Defence
Station Road
Newbridge
Co. Kildare
W12 AD93

Tel 00 353 45 492000
Fax 00 353 45 492017
* loCall 1890 251890
** Or call 0761 001 607

info@defence.ie

eolas@defence.ie

* Note that the rates charged for the use of 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers
** 0761 numbers are charged as a national number from landlines and mobiles and are often included in bundle deals offered by phone operators