It's a move that is hoped to assist in easing the financial burden of the approximately $1.2 billion deficit held by Saskatchewan. The provincial government announced on March 16th that, effective that day, they would be winding down their Executive Air Service. This is a small fleet of aircraft owned and operated by the government for the transport of elected officials, including the premier and Lieutenant Governor, by air to meetings and events.

"It basically stems from examining all the options related to managing expenses as productively as possible," said Troy Smith with the Ministry of Central Services.

"It demonstrates the commitment to looking for efficiency and cutting costs."

Use of the fleet has decreased dramatically in recent years, by about 73 percent, while the overhead costs remained quite high. The number of flights made went from 595 in 2006-2007 to 165 in 2016-2017.

"The savings connected to winding down the service are estimated to be between $700,000 to one million dollars, so they made the decision to discontinue it," Smith shared.

He said that the immediate impacts would involve selling the two aircraft and informing the staff involved of the change.

"We will be looking to the private sector over the next number of weeks to provide charter services. We expect it will be on an as needed basis, so if somebody needs to get somewhere we would be able to contact one of these companies to fill that need."

He added that it currently is unclear whether there would be just one charter establishment or a few on contract. Those details would be ironed out through a request for services process.

Smith also outlined how the changes will affect the operation of government officials.

"They will either be using ground transportation, or commercial flights and the aforementioned charter services. It will just depend on the situation and where they need to go."

"There will be no expected impact on the Air Ambulance service, and the same goes for the Wildfire Management as well," he added.

The government said in their release that they are committed to controlling spending and making the difficult decisions that need to be made. 

 

 

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