By George Psyllides
QUESTIONS were raised on Friday over a recent cabinet decision that reinstated business class travel for certain government officials, some 16 months after it was scrapped for reasons of austerity.
The measure, which had been welcomed by taxpayers, banned business or club class travel for various state officials with the exception of transatlantic flights.
The circular, issued by the previous administration a month before it left office, exempted the president of the Republic, and the House president. The privilege could be used by all if the cost was covered by the EU or other organisations.
The president of the Supreme Court was added to the exemptions later on.
However, another circular issued by the treasurer earlier this month, clarified that the term ‘transatlantic’ included flights over five hours including stopovers, although by its very definition the term means actually crossing the Atlantic. Flights of five hours or more are generally termed ‘long-haul’.
This, according to daily Politis, meant that even flying to Brussels, a frequent destination, was now considered ‘transatlantic’ since Cyprus Airways no longer flew there direct.
The circular was addressed to a number of state officials including the attorney-general, auditor-general, ministry permanent secretaries, and the ombudsman.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said that the change only affected ministers.
Papadopoulos said there was ambiguity in what the term included so the cabinet clarified that it concerned flights that took more than five hours.
The spokesman said even in recent trips to Berlin and Dubai, ministers had travelled economy.