Monday, June 27, 2011

Airforce flying Tassie pollies to Canberra

The air force is flying Tasmanian federal politicians to Canberra aboard a special VIP plane after commercial flights were thrown into chaos by an ash cloud from a Chilean volcano.

The RAAF flight was scheduled to leave Hobart at about 3.30pm AEST on Monday afternoon carrying government, opposition and crossbench MPs and senators ahead of the resumption of parliament on Tuesday.

The politicians will fly on one of the RAAF's plush B-737 Boeing Business Jets, or BBJs.

"If additional flights are required, RAAF would consider its available aircraft," a Defence spokesperson said.

"At this stage, no other requests have been received."

It's believed passengers on the Hobart flight will include Greens Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne, opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz and independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Earlier, a spokesman for House of Representatives leader Anthony Albanese said the government was watching ash cloud developments closely.

"At this stage we expect parliament to resume tomorrow with the full complement of MPs and Senators," he said.

The air force said it was monitoring the impact of the volcanic ash cloud on its operations.

"At this time, no scheduled VIP flights have been affected," the spokesman said.

"Safety is the most important consideration for air force operations.

"Air forces planning and procedures are more flexible than commercial airlines and can plan alternative flight plans that mitigate the risk."

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