The government said on Wednesday that only 17 state officials, including the 11 ministers, were entitled to business class travel, after the uproar caused by a cabinet decision to reinstate the privilege after 16 months.
The clarification was deemed necessary “because the May 19 cabinet decision was misinterpreted,” a government statement said.
The eligible officials, when the trip exceeded five hours including stopovers, were the president of the Republic, House president, Supreme Court president, attorney-general, government spokesman, undersecretary to the president, and the 11 ministers.
The statement said that officials will fly economy on trips that did not exceed five hours unless the cost was covered by an international organisation.
The provision covered state officials and public servants.
It is understood that the president of the Republic, House president, and Supreme Court president are exempted.
The announcement came a day after main opposition AKEL tabled the matter for discussion in parliament following the uproar caused last week when it was reported that the government had reinstated business class travel for state officials around 16 months after it had been scrapped for austerity reasons.
The measure banned business or club class travel for various state officials with the exception of long-haul or “transatlantic” flights as they were called.
However, a circular issued by the treasurer in May, said that the term ‘transatlantic’ meant flights over five hours including stopovers.
This meant shorter trips, like Brussels, which is not served by a direct flight, were now added to the list.
The government said it concerned ministers only, an argument that was strongly disputed.
Critics rejected the government’s position, arguing that it could not be ministers only when a circular sent by the treasurer, to inform of the decision, was addressed to a large number of state officials.