Your 1million bill for jet-set BBC bosses: Corporation spent huge sum on flights to U.S. in just seven monthsFoI request reveals executives, including Mark thompson, ran up huge billCorporation spent an average of 162,246 a month on U.S. flights



07:48 GMT, 14 December 2012

Mark Thompson

High-flier: Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson was among executives who clocked up over 1million on flights to the U.S. over a seven-month period

The BBC spent more than 1 million on flights to America in the space of seven months this year, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act,

Executives including former director-general Mark Thompson clocked up the massive bill flying both business and economy class for meetings and to make programmes.

In total, the Corporation’s U.S. flights bill came to 1,135,726 between April 1 and October 31.

That works out at an average of 162,246 per month, or around 40,000 per week.

The new figures show 1,026 tickets were bought, though the BBC has admitted that final total could be even higher.

With around 20,000 BBC employees in total, an average of one member of staff in every 20 flew to the U.S. at some point during the seven-month period.

The figures do not include the cost of sending 94 assorted staff to the U.S. for last month’s presidential election.

In its FoI response, the BBC said the bill covers tickets booked for staff, contributors and equipment — but doesn’t include any flights that may have been booked directly by staff or guests and then claimed back.

As the BBC is not legally obliged to reveal full details of how it spends the 3.7 billion it is given each year through the licence fee, it is not possible to name every staff member who flew to the U.S. between April and October.

The corporation's flights averaged 162,246 per month, or around 40,000 per week

Big spenders: The corporation's flights averaged 162,246 per month, or around 40,000 per week

However, last week the BBC released details for the first quarter of the financial year for its best-paid 100 employees. This showed that Thompson, who quit in September to become chief executive of The New York Times, took a return business-class flight to San Francisco in June for 5,789.

Also flying to California in June was American-born Ralph Rivera, the 309,000-a-year BBC director of future media, whose return ticket cost 6,213.09.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC has offices across the UK and all over the world. In addition, staff have to represent the organisation at international conferences and events that happen worldwide.

‘Fuel and flight costs are rising, but we continue to try and reduce our expenditure in this area wherever possible.’