The mighty have fallen!! General Motors (G.M.) in response to a highly embarrassing moment this week is cutting the number of leased corporate jets to a mere three.
“We started the year with seven leased aircraft. Because of travel cutbacks this year, we are in the process of reducing the number of aircraft,” according to G.M. spokesman Tom Wilkinson. Two are being cut now and two were returned in September. He also said corporate aviation staff headcount has been cut by 50% since the beginning of the year.
This comes after GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli were roundly criticized for individually flying to Washington last in private jets to ask for taxpayer bailouts.
Something had to give so GM took the first move. Still Rick Wagoner won’t be getting on a packed 757 any time soon. “The boards of directors of many large corporations, including GM, require that key corporate officers travel by corporate aircraft for safety and security reasons,” Wilkinson said.
However, press reports show some CEOs in tight times are bucking this porky practice. According to Reuters, the Air Trans CEO flies on commercial planes. Indeed, I recall Bill Gates flying on commercial plans into the mid-90s when he has already made gazillions.
If anyone deserves to fly on private jets, it’s Bill Gates. That’s no problem when a company is performing, but if that’s the bar, then the three auto execs should be driving Yugos.
My original post on the topic wondered of after the rebuke, they flew back to Detroit on commercial aircraft. GM spokesman Johan Willems sidestepped the question and reiterated company policy mandating that corporate officers fly on private jets.