A BELT-TIGHTENING decree for hardworking politicians yesterday, timed to coincide with the start of the conference season break (three weeks after the end of the Westminster summer break).
In a spirit of collective austerity, parliament has drafted in low cost airline easyJet as a travel partner for MPs and peers.
For the next twelve months, jetsetting legislators can book flexible tickets with easyJet via Hillgate Travel, the company in charge of travel management for parliament.
MPs with faraway constituencies are being encouraged to consider using the no-frills carrier, as are commons select committees.
EasyJet will even allow honourable members to use its new seat-booking service, sadly depriving the rest of easyJet’s customers the chance of a bunfight with Danny Alexander over who gets the window seat.
In these straightened times following the MPs’ expenses scandal, the deal is aimed at saving taxpayer cash – though the airline boasts that “many MPs, peers and government ministers already fly with easyJet”.
Indeed, David Cameron himself has recently basked in the frugal orange glow by taking easyJet flights to Spain for a family holiday, and Nick Clegg is also known to have folded himself into the petite seats of an easyJet flight on several occasions.
But not everyone’s a fan. EasyJet was one of several budget airlines that earlier this year overhauled pricing policies, after heavy pressure from MPs over “excessive” hidden fees and confusing charges.
Presumably canny politicians will avoid such surprise price hikes when they book flights – though not for a while, given easyJet does not link London with any of this year’s party conference venues.
And might a similarly austere fate be in store for the travel plans of another prominent public sector Hillgate client, the Financial Services Authority?