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Armed Services (Free Travel)

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what ranks in the armed services are allowed to travel by air (a) first class and (b) business class at public expense when on official duties. [102886]

Air transport is the normal method of movement for Service Personnel and their families travelling to and from the United Kingdom. Operational airlift for all personnel, including senior officers, is conducted using either trooping flights or commercial charter for which there is no business class entitlement. The booking of seats on civilian commercial flights to destinations not served by air trooping services, or to which service flights are not available at the time required, is permissible but only with the prior approval of the appropriate budget holder.The number of flying hours in one day dictates the seat class entitlement at public expense. There is no entitlement to first class travel for flights under 2.5 hours duration.For flights over 2.5 hours, only 4-star Service officers are permitted to travel first class. Where there are only first or third class seats available, 2-star officers and above may also travel first class.For flights of 4 hours duration or longer, 1-star Service officers may travel first class when a business class seat is unavailable.All ranks of the armed services are entitled to travel business class—if a seat is available—for flights over 2.5 hours. Leave travel is undertaken at economy rates.