Canadian General Walt Natynczyk used VIP aircraft to fly to St. Maarten

POSTED: 09/18/11 11:11 PM

Trip to catch up with vacationing family cost almost $100,000

St. Maarten – The Canadian Chief of Defense Staff General Walt Natynczyk has spent more than $1 million since 2008 flying on government VIP aircraft as an expensive alternative to regular commercial flights — travelling to sporting events and fundraising dinners, as well as a trip to join his family on a cruise vacation in St. Maarten.

Passenger logs obtained by CTV News under the Access to Information Act show that in January 2010, Natynczyk used a CC-144 Challenger to fly to St. Maarten to begin a vacation. He attended a repatriation ceremony a day earlier in Trenton, Ontario, and missed his flight for a cruise holiday with his family.

The VIP aircraft flew Natynczyk to St. Maarten on January 4, the log showed. After dropping the defence chief off for his vacation, the jet left the island 75 minutes later — empty — to return to its base in Ottawa. The Challenger cost $10,104 per flying hour to operate in 2009/2010, National Defense figures show. At 9.2 hours, the return trip between the St. Maarten Island and Canada cost $92,956.80.

Natynczyk is in Europe this week for a NATO meeting and was unavailable to comment.

His spokesman, Lt.-Col. Norbert Cyr, defended the cost, saying in a written statement that Natynczyk “was authorized to use a Challenger aircraft to join his family, who were already sailing aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean.”

The trip, Cyr says, was “not deemed to be a personal trip as the vacation delay was service-related.”  Natynczyk’s spokesman added that the trip allowed the defence chief to spend Christmas with his family for the first time in three years.

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