U.S. decries $54M that U.N. spent for high-class travel

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The United States is condemning “excessive” high-class business travel by staffers with the United Nations and says the global body ought to bring costs in line to reflect the struggling world economies.

Almost three-quarters of the money that’s spent on airline travel by staff at the U.N. headquarters goes for business class, rather than coach or economy, Agence France-Presse reports. Heads of states, led by the United States, are complaining.

That is “clearly unjustifiable,” said Joseph Torsella, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, in the AFP report. Mr. Torsella has been battling wasteful expenditures at the United Nations since 2011.

The U.N.’s policies for air travel are “out of whack,” he said, in the AFP report. U.N. officials refuse to implement “common sense and overdue reforms” and that’s only fueling a government system that is already “ripe for abuse,” he said.

U.N. staff spent $769 million of its $5 billion budget for 2010-2011 on travel, AFP reports. On top of that, another $200 million was spent to transport members of the peacekeeping department — which is funded separately — to various locales around the world. An estimate $54 million of $74 million on air travel were business class tickets, AFP says.

“There are a series of loopholes that are just on the face of it crazy,” Mr. Torsella said, to AFP.

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