UN Spent $319 Million on Staff Travel Last Year

Feb. 8, 2018 – UN Secretariat staff took almost 100,000 trips last year at a cost to the global taxpayer of $319 million, according to a new report by Antonio Gutteres.

The UN chief was tasked by the General Assembly to issue the report and to devise recommendations for cutting down on travel costs.

Of the 98,000 flights taken by some of the 41,000 people working for the UN Secretariat, 12,000 were in business class and just 51 traveled by first class, and that number looks set to decrease.

In his conclusions, Guterres says assistant and under-secretaries general representing him in an official capacity should no longer travel first class but stick to business class for all their travels.

Business class is offered to UN staffers when their flight time is 9 hours or more. This is not insignificant as the flight from New York to Geneva, a popular route for world body employees, is just over nine hours. [Correction: A reader pointed out that the travel time from NYC to Geneva is 7.5 hours and that unless there is a special circumstance UN staff travel on economy for these trips.]

The deputy secretary-general and the president of the General Assembly still retain their first class travel rights.

The average cost of travel for UN staffers works out at about $3,000 with about half that spent on the price of the flight.

The full report is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz