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CTV: Defence Minister Peter MacKay most frequent flier on the government's Challenger fleet

CTV News is reporting that Defence Minister Peter MacKay has logged $2.9 million in travel costs since 2007 and is the most frequent flier on the government’s Challenger fleet.

CTV says documents it obtained through an Access to Information request show MacKay has taken 35 flights amounting to 247 hours aboard the Challenger since becoming defence minister.

MacKay’s spokesman Jay Paxton tells CTV MacKay only used the jets for official purposes, adding about half of those trips were taken so the defence minister could attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

But CTV reports the documents show that out of 35 flights, just nine were taken for repatriation ceremonies and that many of the trips were for political announcements and news conferences _ and none were to Afghanistan.

The report says the only other senior government official to fly more than MacKay on VIP flights is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who isn’t allowed to fly commercially because of security concerns.

CTV revealed in another recent report that MacKay was picked up at the end of a vacation in Newfoundland by a Cormorant helicopter, but MacKay said the flight was so he could participate in a training exercise.