Royal Family Relying More on Aircraft Chartering

 - July 2, 2009, 11:46 AM

Britain’s Royal Household and Ministry of Defence are evaluating options for providing flights for Queen Elizabeth II and her family beginning April 1 next year after existing military and private charter arrangements expire. Revival of an earlier plan to purchase a new head-of-state aircraft seems unlikely in view of the continuing recession in the UK. However, the Queen will be taking delivery of a new Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to replace one that has been operated under a 10-year lease that expired in April. Queen Elizabeth has become a significant consumer of executive charter services since scrapping plans to buy a new private jet last October. Royal accounts publicly reported on June 29 have revealed that Britain’s royal family has been using the services of an unidentified charter operator under a contract drawn up in anticipation of Royal Air Force plans to withdraw availability of 32 Squadron aircraft as of April 1. However, the RAF has since agreed to extend the availability of flights in its aging British Aerospace 146s and Hawkers until March 31 next year. The Queen and other royals have had to use charter flights more frequently because the military aircraft have been increasingly unavailable as they are on active service in the Middle East.