The use of private jets by the top lieutenants of publicly traded companies (and even private firms, recently) is a sore spot.
That’s because shareholders and the public more broadly, envision financiers and various loaded individuals, jetting off to their vacation mansions instead of toiling away at a desk, like their underlings.
And it turns out, those visions were right.
A Wall Street Journal review of FAA flight records found that dozens of jets operated by publicly traded corporations made 30% or more of their trips to or from resort destinations, sometimes more than 50%. Often, these were places where their top executives own homes.
The high percentage of trips to vacation destinations in a few cases suggests some companies’ jets are frequently used by executives to make personal trips.
To find these results, the WSJ had to submit a Freedom of Information Act request.
Why? Because companies use a special program that hides the movements of their aircrafts from air traffic logs:
Many companies prefer to keep their aircraft movements hidden, using an FAA-approved program that allows plane owners to “block” their flights from websites that display air traffic. More than 650 jets operated by U.S. public corporations recently had their flights blocked, the Journal found, including all of EMC’s and Leucadia’s jets, and two of Comcast’s…
To analyse corporate flying patterns, the Journal obtained, via a Freedom of Information Act request, records of every private aircraft flight recorded in the FAA’s air-traffic system from 2007 through 2010. These included flights previously blocked from public view.
The Journal calculated the percentage of each plane’s flights to a list of 300 locales it determined were more likely to be leisure destinations than business. That excluded major cities such as Miami, New York and Paris, and included spots like Palm Beach, Aspen, Colo., and the Bahamas. The list wasn’t exhaustive, and was meant to serve as a rough proxy for potential leisure travel.
One example given was for a company called Leucadia National, whose Chairman used the plane to fly to the Hamptons a few times.
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