Ministerial flights bone of contention amid green transport drive

Ignazio Cassis (second from right) has faced criticism for a recent short haul flight. © Ti-press

Government ministers will continue to fly jets to appointments despite a pledge by the administration to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030. Other civil servants will have to make more use of trains and attend fewer conferences and other events in future.

This content was published on December 24, 2019 - 11:53

The seven members of the Federal Council (government ministers) have justified their continued use of private jets by pointing out that the fleet’s 13 pilots need to be airborne for a minimum number of hours to meet the conditions for their flying licenses.

Last year, pilots were obliged to take the jets on empty flights totaling more than 70 hours to meet this obligation, reports the Tages Anzeiger newspaper. The aim is to reduce the number of empty flights from its current level of around 10% of total flying time for the government jets.

But some politicians are not happy with this arrangement. A recent flight from Bern to Zurich (a distance just over 120kms), taken by foreign minister Ignazio Cassis, has drawn particular criticism from the Green party for apparently contradicting the administration’s desire to reduce its transport emissions.

That particular flight has been defended because of a tight schedule for Cassis to meet with an EU official. In future, the government says it has a goal to reduce the number of empty flights taken by its jets.

In addition, flying has been cited as the best option for government ministers because of high safety standards, the possibility of deploying to crisis regions, availability at short notice and the ability to meet tight deadlines.

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