French prime minister says pricy private flight only option

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PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says he will "assume responsibility" for spending 350,000 euros ($414,000) on a private flight back from a French territory in the South Pacific.

Philippe said Wednesday on RTL Radio that "it's complicated and expensive to travel as prime minister."

Philippe took a commercial flight to New Caledonia earlier this month. For the return, he rented a roomy Airbus A340 for himself and his 60-member delegation instead of traveling on a French military plane that was available.

He said the private flight was his only option for getting to Paris before President Emmanuel Macron's departed for Algeria the same day. Philippe cited an unwritten rule implying that one of them always must be in France.

The flight's cost has been questioned amid government spending cuts.

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