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Britain scraps plan for 'Blair Force One'

/ Source: The Associated Press

The British government said Wednesday it is scrapping plans to buy a jet plane for the prime minister and Queen Elizabeth II.

The plan was announced two years ago by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair — and immediately was dubbed "Blair Force One" by journalists.

But the Department for Transport said officials decided Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the royal family should continue to use scheduled flights or charter commercial planes when they need to fly overseas.

The plan had called for the government to acquire two planes — a large jet for overseas travel and a small aircraft for short-haul flights.

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the government would lease a small plane for official travel within Britain.

Brown, a Scot, has a reputation for frugality and has taken steps to distance himself from the more flamboyant style of his predecessor.

In a statement to lawmakers, Fitzpatrick said there had been "substantial increases in the cost of buying and operating commercial aircraft" since the idea was raised in 2006. He said the new plan would be a better value and would cut emissions of carbon dioxide from official travel by about 10 percent.

Brown uses chartered British Airways jets or military planes for most official business. Members of the royal family also have traveled BA, as well as on privately chartered planes.