After being eviscerated for flying private jets to Washington to beg for a bailout, the car companies are suddenly focusing on “symbolism.” Ford may dump its jets, too.
(Which is fine if it saves money. But there are many circumstances when flying private actually makes sense: Flying many execs at the same time, flying to unusual locations, saving time, etc. That said, we assume there are plenty of flights from Detroit to Washington, and we assume that when Wagoner, Mulally, et al, fly in to present their “plans” to Congress, they’ll be flying coach.)
WSJ: Ford upped the ante in the debate over corporate travel on company planes Friday, saying the ailing auto maker is exploring the sale of its five aircraft.
“Ford’s top priority is to continue making progress on our transformation plan, and we do not want anything to distract us. We are exploring all cost-effective solutions for our air travel,” said company spokesman Mark Truby.
General Motors Corp., skewered for using private jets to fly to Washington D.C. while pleading for a government bailout, also said Friday it will offload two of its five corporate planes. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and much of the media lambasted the executives for using the planes while seeking $25 billion in low-interest loans.
“There’s a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off them with tin cups in their hands,” Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D., N.Y.) said this week at the hearings with the auto makers’ CEOs. “It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo.”…
Ford has five planes: three smaller jets used for executives’ travel and two employed to ferry larger groups of employees to help introduce new products, according to Mr. Truby. He could not say whether Ford is considering the sale of some or all of the planes in its corporate fleet.
“We have sold four planes since 2005,” he added.
When asked whether Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally would start to travel on commercial aeroplanes, including what could be a return trip to Capitol Hill for more hearings next month, Mr. Truby said only that “we’ll continue to use safe and efficient air travel to meet our business and security needs.”
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