Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Defence the procedures followed in selling the Gulfstream IV Government jet in 2014; and the reason the jet was not put up for public auction.
REPLY (Minister Simon Coveney):
In July 2014, the Gulfstream IV aircraft, which had been in service for 23 years, travelled to the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation (GAC) facility in Savannah, Georgia, USA, for its annual maintenance inspection.
During this inspection, it became apparent that the servicing and repair of the aircraft would have involved a significantly higher level of investment than was anticipated. Given the number of flying hours achieved and the age of the aircraft it was decided that all work on the aircraft should cease, the servicing and repair of the aircraft would not be completed, the aircraft was to be withdrawn from operational service in the Air Corps and the aircraft would not be returned back to Ireland.
The aircraft, which was on the Irish military register, was not in a saleable position. In order to put the aircraft in a saleable position by tender, public auction or otherwise would have required the demilitarisation of the aircraft, the transfer of the aircraft to the civil register and the re-registration of the aircraft which would have been reliant on the completion of a full aircraft inspection and the completion of significant repairs to the aircraft. This would have required major expenditure by the Department of Defence with no certainty at that stage that a buyer for the aircraft would be found.
With the assistance of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and over a period of some months, the Department eventually concluded the sale of the aircraft on an “as seen” basis with a US based company, Journey Aviation based in Florida, USA in December 2014 for US $500,000. The formal transfer of ownership of the aircraft was completed in mid January 2015 on receipt of payment.
The Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) is currently being provided by the Learjet 45 aircraft. An inter-Departmental MATS Review Group has been established to examine options for the future provision of a service that will continue to provide the President, members of the Government and accompanying officials with an independent means of international air transport. When the Group has completed its deliberations and made its recommendations, I will bring a Report to Government with recommendations on how best to provide a MATS service into the future.