Taxpayers have funded so-called “air taxis” for the US government to the tune of at least $14 billion since the start of the Trump administration, according to open source data.
The USA Spending website reports that officials working during the Trump presidency spent $9.4 billion on “non-scheduled charter passenger air travel.”
The numbers could irritate some Republican voters, who have long stressed the importance of moderating government spending.
USA Spending, a government website, shows the billions of dollars handed out to private companies each year through air transport contracts.
The lion’s share of lucrative deals come from the Department of Defense budget, but Pentagon officials declined to comment on the numbers.
Cabinet secretaries or members of Congress, for example, can also request the use of military aircraft, which do not appear in the data for security reasons, when they say such travel is “mission essential”. .
A senior US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused Trump administration officials “of using the US Air Force as a taxi service”.
“More needs to be done to tackle the abuse of government flights,” the source said.
Trump has been repeatedly criticized for his use of official aircraft, including his regular visits to Mar-a-Lago and his golf courses on Air Force One, the presidential jet.
However, the former commander-in-chief forced the resignation of his health and human services secretary, Tom Price, in September 2017.
The ex-president made the move when it emerged Price had blown tens of thousands of dollars on private jets.
Since Joe Biden took office, his administration has spent nearly $4.7 billion on air taxis in just under two and a half years, according to the USA Spending website.
It comes as the Biden administration teaches ordinary Americans about the dangers of climate change and a cost of living crisis thanks to two years of runaway inflation.
Its officials have also launched a bizarre green crackdown on household appliances deemed too polluting.
One company, Florida-based Presidential Aviation Inc., landed a $22 million contract last month for “charter flights” for the Department of Homeland Security.
David Williams, president of the Protecting Taxpayers alliance, said “the use of private jets is more about the culture and sense of rights of government officials.”
“It’s always fun to spend someone else’s money, especially when there are no consequences to stealing high on taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Congress needs to pass very strict rules on when and where private air travel is appropriate.”
Craig Holman, an ethics lobbyist with the pro-transparency group Public Citizen, called on the US government to share more details with the public.
“Presidents of all parties make extensive use of official aircraft to transport administration officials and members of Congress and other staff around the world,” Holman said.
“We need full transparency on the purpose of all these trips so that we can assess whether they are worth it,” he added.
Operating costs for Marine One, a presidential helicopter, are not included in the open source figures. But senior government officials and members of Congress can request the use of military aircraft if they are deemed ‘mission essential’
Travel records and operating expenses for Air Force One and Air Force Two, used by the Vice President and Secretary of State on Air Force Two, are not in the public domain.
Rules for the use of U.S. Air Force aircraft by lower-ranking officials are based on an Obama-era Department of Defense dictation issued in 2009.
It says such requests are only approved when “compelling operational considerations make commercial transportation unacceptable.”
The Mail has reported in the past how Trump’s children are often seen on official government planes.
Joe Biden also faced similar criticism after his son Hunter and his sister boarded Air Force One to join him on his recent visit to Ireland.
Private companies can also enter into lucrative contracts providing air taxi services to the US Armed Forces.
Texas-based Air Center Helicopter signed a $155 million deal with the Department of Defense in December that could last up to five years to fly passengers and cargo to Africa.
No less than $3.9 billion has been spent on DoD air taxi contracts since the start of the Biden presidency.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the numbers or nature of contracts awarded under the current and previous administrations.
A spokesperson referred DailyMail.com to the US Transportation Command which handles flight logistics for the government.