Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took a government jet for a trip to New York City last April, then flew back to Washington only hours later after a series of meetings, according to reports.
Buttigieg, who has attracted scrutiny over his frequent use of private jets, did a radio interview and met with the president of the American Civil Liberties Union before returning, with the Transportation Department saying that the jet was necessary due to a “late-notice schedule change.”
On April 7, Buttigieg flew from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to an executive airport near New York City, Fox News reported, and returned on the same jet, a Cessna Citation 560XL, to attend a White House meeting later the same day.
The trip featured a 40-minute meeting with ACLU president Deborah Archer, a 20-minute meeting with DOT employees, and a nearly hourlong interview on the radio program The Breakfast Club.
It was reported in December that Buttigieg had flown on a taxpayer-funded private jet at least 18 times since taking office, and he took heat for his role, or lack thereof, in resolving the Southwest Airlines canceled flights debacle over the holidays.
After flying to New York City and back on the government jet on April 7, Buttigieg returned to the city the next day on a commercial airline.
DOT officials told Fox News that a last-minute White House meeting was the reason Buttigieg needed to fly an FAA plane, and claimed it was charged just $228 per flight, or $456 total.
“Due to a late-notice schedule change, he had to travel back to Washington for a White House meeting which fell during a previously planned two-day trip to New York,” a DOT spokesperson said.
The DOT further claimed that the department’s aircraft was less expensive than a commercial flight, though it did not respond to questions about the overall cost of the two flights.
But the plane would have burned an estimated $1,060 worth of fuel, according to Energy Information Administration data, and DOT records from the Trump era showed the FAA charged DOT $2,095 for a flight from Washington to New York in June 2017.
Buttigieg, who has said fighting climate change could be “more challenging” than winning World War II, has also raised eyebrows over the climate impacts of his trips since private jet travel is considered the most carbon-intensive mode of transportation available.