01 June 2014 10:06

Business class flights are only used by ministers for flights that last longer than five hours including waiting time at interim stops, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Friday.
Commenting on recent media reports regarding the Cabinet's decision to allow the use of business class for ministers, Papadopoulos said that all travel expenses to attend European councils or other institutions are covered by the European Union.
Meanwhile, ministers or other state officials travelling for purposes of bilateral relations fly in economy.
The use of business class flights for government officials had been suspended by the Christofias administration in January 2013 to cut expenses, while only transatlantic flights were exempt from the restriction.
According to a circular released by the state treasury, the Cabinet has included five-hour flights under transatlantic travel, causing a storm of reaction as this includes total travelling time for indirect flights.
The government has been criticised for including stops in the five hour period, as the indirect flight to Brussels via Cyprus Airways exceeds that timeframe, leaving only regional flights under the restriction such as to Athens or Tel Aviv.
According to the initial decision, general director of the Finance Ministry Christos Patsalides suspended the right to take business or club class flights for state officials with the exception of transatlantic flights, while other benefits including meal expenses had also been reviewed.
The President of the Republic and the House, and later the Supreme Court chairman, were excluded from the restrictions, while officials were allowed to use business or club class privileges when these were covered by the European Union.
Fewer privileges and expenses were part of a cost-cutting strategy as Cyprus faced a bailout crisis but critics say that public figures enjoy too many benefits at the tax-payers expense.
 


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