< Back to 68k.news UK front page

Sunak takes helicopter to Yorkshire - via stopoff just two miles from an airport

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Rishi Sunak used a helicopter to travel to his Yorkshire constituency on Thursday, with a stopoff to visit a billionaire family who live only two miles from a large airport.

Flight records show the prime minister took off from a private heliport near parliament in London on Thursday afternoon, landing about an hour later, very close to Manchester airport.

The trip will raise more questions about Sunak's repeated use of helicopters for relatively short trips, especially one where the first stop was an eight-minute drive from the airport.

Local people said Sunak's helicopter landed in the back garden of Bobby Arora, one of three brothers who own the B&M chain of stores, in Hale Barns, Altrincham. Arora lives next door to his brother Simon, the company's former chief executive who has previously donated £50,000 to the Conservatives.

The brothers bought B&M in 2004 when it had 21 outlets. It now has more than 700. While it is listed on the London Stock Exchange, its holding company is based in the low-tax centre of Luxembourg.

After just under two hours in Hale Barns, Sunak's helicopter made the 30-minute flight to Bagby in the prime minister's North Yorkshire constituency, where the chartered craft is based.

Downing Street confirmed the trip, saying Sunak needed to make the most efficient use of his time. As this was a visit related to the Conservative party rather than in his role as prime minister, the cost of the trip would not be met by the taxpayer. It is not known who paid.

Earlier this month, Sunak used a helicopter for an official visit to Southampton, to announce a plan connected to pharmacies. If done by train, the 160-mile round trip would have taken about one hour 15 minutes each way and cost as little as £30 for a return fare.

In February, Sunak flew to London from Dorset by helicopter and returned to the south-west of England by plane later the next morning. Sunak had been at Lulworth military base in Dorset and then visited a family hub in St Austell, Cornwall. But rather than stay overnight and travel 140 miles between the engagements, Sunak flew to and then from London, a round trip of nearly 400 miles.

The prime minister has previously used private helicopters to travel from London to his constituency, costing about £16,000.

skip past newsletter promotion

Some Tory MPs have privately expressed concern that Sunak's repeated use of hugely expensive chartered helicopters, whether paid for by public funds or privately, make him appear out of touch with the concerns and lives of voters.

While rarely commenting on specific travel arrangements, No 10 says Sunak's transport logistics are planned to make the best balance between cost and the demands on his schedule.

< Back to 68k.news UK front page