The President of the Government and leader of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, continues to use the Falcon to go on an official plane to party events. This Sunday he did it to attend the congress of the Catalan socialists and the official alibi that he has wielded has been an ‘institutional declaration’ that he could have made from Madrid, but for which he has chosen the headquarters of the Government Delegation in Barcelona. From the opposition, the PP, Vox and Cs have criticized the abusive use of official media for partisan purposes by the president.
It has been repeated this Sunday, once again, the ‘modus operandi’ de Sánchez to insistently resort to the official plane for partisan purposes: to use it to travel to PSOE events throughout the Spanish geography and, To have an official fit, schedule an institutional act as an excuse at the destination on duty.
The alibis used have been very varied, from a fleeting visit to a fruit cooperative to a brief stop in a pharmaceutical laboratory, passing –for example– through a meeting with representatives of the Levantine tourist sector. It is also common that these official appointments are not open to journalists.
This Sunday, La Moncloa has resorted to a much more frequently used appointment on the agenda: an institutional statement. Neither visit nor institutional meeting, a presidential address which could have been carried out at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Government. But there was a PSC congress. The Catalan socialists have released a leader, the former minister Salvador Illa. And Sánchez has wrapped him up in person, flying in a Falcon in between.
In the last month and a half, it is the seventh time that the president incurs in this controversial practice of using this brand-new –and expensive– means of official locomotion for party events, but charged to the General Budgets. In addition to the outlay involved in flying this Air Force plane assigned to the Presidency, it is usual that this also involves the use of the Superpuma helicopter, as has happened this Sunday. The helicopter usually takes the president from La Moncloa to Torrejón de Ardoz, where he takes the Falcon. And, when it returns, the journey is done in reverse.
The Government is reluctant to make the cost public that Pedro Sánchez has accumulated in such a flying maelstrom charged to the General State Budgets but with an evident partisan or private aspect. Clings to the appealed argument of reserved matters.
Month and a half of flying maelstrom
What happened in the last month and a half is an eloquent example of the frequency with which Sánchez flies in Falcon to travel to socialist events, with the Super Puma helicopter as an aerial ‘commuter’ addition to cover the route between the Palacio de la Moncloa and the Torrejón runway in which the brand new official plane rests.
On November 7, the destination was Malaga. Until there he flew under the General State Budget. The institutional agenda included a brief visit to the Vodafone R + D + i center in the Malaga capital, but, in reality, the main political appointment was the Andalusian PSOE congress in Torremolinos.
Seven days later On November 14, I traveled in Falcon to Levantine lands. Pedro Sánchez attended the congress of the Valencian Socialists that was held in Benidorm (Alicante). On that occasion, the institutional alibi was a meeting with representatives of the tourism sector.
On the weekend of November 20 and 21, he doubled to cross the Spanish geography from end to end. The La Palma volcano served as an argument –seventh visit for that purpose– to travel to the congress of the Canarian socialists on Saturday, November 20. The next day the destination was Bilbao, the ‘alibi’ on that occasion was a brief stop at a pharmaceutical laboratory, and the real political appointment was the closing of the congress of the Basque Socialists.
On December 5 he traveled to Murcia. There was a socialist congress there, and the alibi for the use of official air means was a fleeting stopover in an agrarian cooperative in the Murcian town of Mula.
Three days later, December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pedro Sánchez flew out of the General State Budget to participate in the Congress of the Galician Socialists, in Santiago de Compostela. The ‘institutional’ argument was the visit to a logging company, without journalists or representatives of the Xunta.
This long list of match trips with official air means adds to the string of routes that Sánchez accumulates since he settled in La Moncloa, after the motion of censure against Rajoy in June 2018. In Pedro Sánchez’s flying credit, trips for strictly personal use have also emerged, such as going with his wife to a concert or attend a brother-in-law’s wedding, to which he went by helicopter and who declared reserved matter so as not to account for what this displacement cost the public coffers. The same argument used to hide the price of the travel with his wife to enjoy a concert in Benicásim. These two displacements, that of the wedding and that of the concert, occurred in his first months as president, after the motion of censure against Rajoy.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism