The New Brunswick government's plane has been sold for $2.5 million US to Can-West Corporate Air Charters Ltd., which provides air ambulance services in Alberta.

“The sale of the government plane will help the province meet its fiscal challenges,” Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The Alward government has been criticized for its use of the government-owned airplane. David Alward, in this image, is leaving the plane in Charlo on Sept. 20, 2011.

The provincial government paid about $4.5 million for the 2006 King Air B-200 aircraft when it was purchased  in 2008.

Although regular use of the plane had dropped, it was still costing taxpayers about $890,000 a year to operate, including flight crew salaries, insurance, fuel and maintenance, said Williams.

The government will now charter flights as needed for the premier and cabinet ministers travelling on government business, he said.

Responses to a request for proposals on a five-year contract are currently being reviewed, he added.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs promised to review the future ownership of the government-owned plane in 2012.

He reiterated plans to sell the twin-engine turbine aircraft as a way to cut costs during the budget speech in March.

It was put up for sale last May.

The Liberal Opposition has argued farming out the flight service to a private company will make it harder to see who's using the plane and how often.

But Williams has said ministers will be billed for each flight, making it very transparent.

The forecasted deficit for New Brunswick in the coming year is $391 million. Plans to balance the books have been pushed back to 2017-18.