Jet is mocked as an aging gas-guzzler

Dion campaigns from refitted Air Inuit jet


KUUJJUAQ – Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is campaigning across Canada on Air Inuit's recently-purchased Boeing 737, despite criticism that the 29-year-old aircraft is a carbon-emitting fuel-guzzler.

The jet, chartered by the Liberal Party from Air Inuit, is a combi-freighter with special cargo doors that can seat between 34 and 112 passengers.

It's one of two 737-200s that Air Inuit bought last year from Dolphin Air, a charter airline based in Dubai in United Arab Emirates.

To date, Air Inuit has possession of only one of the jets – the second is to arrive later.

The jets cost about $2.5 million each, plus the cost of overhauling them.

The Liberals' jet underwent a special rush refit for Dion's team last week, receiving leather seats, three work tables and special wiring for internet connectivity.

The NDP criticized the Liberals' decision to charter the 29-year old Boeing 737-200 because it consumes three times more fuel than the Air Canada Airbus-319's that the Conservatives and NDP both chartered for their campaign travel.

But Liberal Party officials say they intend to offset the jet's impact on the environment by making a tax-deductible contribution to CarbonZero, a Toronto firm involved in measuring carbon emissions.

CarbonZero will put the credits toward a project in Montreal that replaces gas boilers with new units using heating controls and new energy-efficient piping systems.

Air Inuit only plans to start using the Boeing 737 when jet service to Puvirnituq starts sometime late in 2009.

The Boeing 737 is the only type of jet aircraft made that's capable of landing on Nunavik's gravel airstrips, said Air Inuit's Peter ­Horsman.

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