Rishi Sunak has been criticised for taking a domestic flight in an RAF jet for the third time in 10 days.
The prime minister flew on a 14-seat aircraft to an event in Lancashire on Thursday to hold the first of what is due to be a series of events where he will take questions from the public.
But the event was overshadowed by the row over his transport choices after it emerged he took a 40-minute flight for a journey that would have taken about three hours by train. It is the third time the prime minister has flown domestically in an RAF jet recently, after similar trips to Scotland and Leeds.
A Labour spokesperson said: “Rishi Sunak isn’t even trying to hide these recklessly expensive habits anymore. Jetting around the country on taxpayers’ money like an A-list celeb rather than catching a train like the rest of us is simply absurd.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister will use different modes of transport depending on what’s in the best interest of the best use of his time to enable him to get around the entire UK.”
Asked if train reliability was a factor in not using the railways, they added: “That’s not the factor that obviously decides this, and you’ll know we are investing huge sums into our railways.”
The aircraft Sunak flew in is a 900LX made by the French company Dassault. According to the RAF website, it was bought to transport high-priority military personnel and small items of freight to and from operational areas.
Sunak’s recent trips have brought accusations that he is both wasting taxpayers’ money and damaging the environment.
Hiring the Dassault jet would cost more than £2,500 an hour on the commercial market, according to the aircraft purchasing advisers Conklin and de Decker. A standard-class train ticket would have cost about £100 if booked in advance.
The government has pledged to cut carbon emissions in its drive to reach net zero by 2050. Part of that includes reducing emissions from the domestic aviation market as part of a programme called “jet zero”, aimed at reducing the 7% of emissions that come from the aviation sector.