May 24, 2024

A formal complaint has been filed against Sadiq Khan in connection with a controversy surrounding City Hall’s arrangement with United Airlines for flights to and within the USA. Additional details have surfaced about the agreement between the mayor’s office and United Airlines, which facilitated affordable travel for Khan, his team, and accompanying journalists during a five-day trade mission in May 2022.

This trip aimed to attract American tourists, businesses, and investments to London, but concerns have been raised about the entire party receiving complimentary flights from United Airlines, with only fees and taxes being paid, without apparent reciprocation from City Hall.

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The mayor’s office contends that the arrangement was not a formal partnership, emphasizing Khan’s commitment to saving taxpayers money on flights. However, Green assembly member Caroline Russell has lodged a formal complaint, citing perceived lack of transparency and integrity on the mayor’s part, particularly regarding promotional posts on Khan’s personal and official Twitter accounts and the insertion of a pro-United Airlines statement in City Hall’s press release.

Russell’s complaint is under investigation, and she expressed worries about the potential compromise of the mayor’s office integrity. A document has surfaced indicating that City Hall agreed to provide United Airlines with various promotional opportunities in exchange for the mostly business class flights. These opportunities include recognition at external events, participation in mayoral events, and inclusion of the United logo on event signage.

The agreement also covered the traveling press, allowing journalists to join and report on the trip without their organizations having to pay airfares. While City Hall claims the deal was a one-time arrangement and not a formal partnership, Russell argues that it lacks transparency and raises concerns about potential endorsements from the mayor’s office.

A spokesperson for Khan defended the trip, emphasizing its importance in promoting London, and highlighted the cost-saving measures. United Airlines noted its sustainability efforts amid the controversy.

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