The true true cost of the Challenger jets
Over the weekend, the CBC ran an article on their website titled Challenger Jets’ True Cost Revealed. Besides the fact that the reporter’s calculations are wrong, it totally overshadows the purpose that the government has its own jets in the first place.
Regardless of who our elected officials are, they are elected by the public and they are there to provide and carry out some pretty important jobs. Beyond the obvious such as security, government is there to protect the rights of Canadians from foreign interests. The Canadian government participates in many international trade organizations and economic forums for which if the government was not there, Canada may find itself on the outside of may economic decisions that affect our livelihood. Time constraints and Canadian priorities sometime require non commercial options for government officials in order to do what’s in Canada’s interest. It’s because of such inclusion that Canada enjoys one of the strongest world economies today.
Also, like it or not, Canada is a physically massive country (2nd largest country in the world in land mass). Elected officials and government managers are required to be in Ottawa where government is centralized and in the various parts of the country in order to communicate with the population. Commercial alternatives are not always available to be where one needs to be on time. If our country were the size of Luxembourg, I would understand the query for need of private jets but on the contrary, on sheer size alone makes the need of accessible transportation from time-to-time essential for government to carry out its function effectively. Arguments can be made for and against that the government needs six jets but the fact is the government needs to have its own form of transportation available in order to do its job.
Turning to the way the reporter of the CBC article costed the expenses for the jets, he cannot mix the fixed costs for the planes with the operating and variable costs of the plane. The fixed costs will be incurred if the planes are used or not. Using the reporters calculation method, it would suggest that the more the government uses the jets, the cheaper the per hour the costs would be to run them, which is not true. His article suggests that if, for example, government officials used the planes twice as much (5,338 hours), the per hour rate would fall to $8,033/hour which makes no sense.
The true true cost of the Challenger jets is $24M per year just to own them and maintain them regardless how much they are flown. It costs an additional $9,000 per hour to fly them.
It’s silly to try to argue the government does not need its own planes to carry out its function. And to try to second guess their usage by individual government officials is just red meat for the chattering class.