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B.C. government airfare soars 0

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Harbour Air planes. (REUTERS)

Harbour Air planes. (REUTERS)

The provincial government spent $2.7 million on airfare between Helijet Airways and Harbour Air, according to figures released through public accounts earlier this week and crunched by a government watchdog.

IntegrityBC said it went through the public accounts for the 2013-14 fiscal period for the government’s purchasing card, and found about $2.4 million was spent on the two air service providers, with an additional $300,000 from other government accounts used on flights.

Executive director Dermod Travis said the amount of flights, more than 20,000, are perplexing.

“More than likely some very legitimate, good reasons for that, but I’m hard-pressed to understand why (for example) the Ministry of Science and Technology would need to bill $46,500 with Harbour Air and $98,845 with Helijet,” Travis said.

Narrowed down, Travis said the records indicate the premier’s office charged $80,350 in airfare to Harbour Air and $61,720 to Helijet.

But he said even considering the charges came from all of the government, the numbers are still high.

“I just don’t think you can justify more than 20,000 flights as all having legitimate, good reasons,” Travis said, pointing out there was only about 40 days of the legislature sitting during the billing period.

He said the billing doesn’t account for any flights taken on other airlines, such as Air Canada or Pacific Coastal Airlines.

*UPDATE*

The Ministry of Finance issued a statement in defence of the airfare Friday afternoon. 

"Employee travel to and from Victoria is often required in order to deliver the many programs and services British Columbians rely on," it said. 

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