The BBC has spent almost £5million on flying its directors, staff and guests around Britain, it has been revealed.
Despite the corporation’s pledge to be more environmentally friendly, the licence-fee payer has funded almost 100 short-haul flights a day for BBC staff – a massive 68,000 plane trips over the past two years.
And BBC chiefs have been among the biggest culprits for making these journeys – despite an internal report stating that staff will be encouraged ‘to use rail rather than air wherever that is feasible’.
Director general Mark Thompson, who earns £834,000 a year, took 16 internal flights including one to Newcastle from London to attend a Conservative Party reception, and a flight from London to Glasgow to attend a concert.
Mark Byford, deputy director general, flew from Southampton to Edinburgh to watch an England vs Scotland rugby match. Mr Byford, who earns £471,000 a year, also took a flight from London to Manchester – a trip which takes less than three hours by train – to attend the Open golf championship in Birkdale.
A spokesman for Friends of the Earth said: ‘There’s no excuse for flying across the UK when there are greener alternatives such as travelling by train.’
Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Some BBC staff seem to be accustomed to travelling five star, but this kind of luxury can’t go on.’
A spokesman said the BBC was introducing video conferencing to cut down on the need to travel to meetings. But she added: ‘It remains the case that domestic flights are sometimes the cheapest and most time-efficient means for transport.’