Last week, the French government declared their tax data for 2016, and most citizens of the Fifth Republic noticed that they were now mostly governed by millionaires. This week, a new scandal engulfs France as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had to defend himself when journalists discovered he had chartered a private aircraft at a cost of $415,000 to bring himself and a delegation back from Tokyo earlier this month.
Mr Philippe's office had hired an Airbus A320 with first-class seats to fly from Japan to Paris on December 6th instead of using the regular A340 army transport plane (which still flew the same route at roughly the same time).
According to Mr Philippe this was needed because he was due back in Paris urgently as
President Emmanuel Macron was about to leave the country and the air force plane was too uncomfortable for a night flight.
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The Prime Minister stated: "It's complicated to move the prime minister around and it's expensive. I understand both the surprise and the questions that French people are asking themselves."
When a journalist asked if it had been a mistake, Mr Philippe replied: "I take responsibility for this decision completely, I take responsibility to such an extent that I want to explain it."
"We knew that there wasn't a commercial flight at that time and that we needed to get back. We knew we needed to get back for something vital which is that the president was leaving on the Wednesday morning of our return."
In all, the French army plane which flew back empty landed two hours after the private jet, leading to a mocking of the French Prime Minister on the internet. A former Socialist Minister, Mr Stéphane Le Foll tweeted "nothing can explain spending 350,000 euros… The Republic's planes are very good. There's no need to take private planes just so that you can sleep better."