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GM Asks FAA to Block Public Tracking of Corporate Private Jet

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In a perfectly legal--if rather petulant--move, GM asked the FAA to block public tracking of a private jet that the automaker is currently leasing. Automotive News reported that GM spokesman Greg Martin said yesterday, regarding the action, that the company had "availed ourselves of the same option as others have."

Martin did not explain why GM made the request, nor did he speculate on when the the request might be honored. Whether or not the action is related to Congressman Ackerman's public rebuke of the Big Three CEO's jet-setting to D.C., or GM's decision to get rid of two corporate jets soon thereafter, is unknown. But it sure smells just a little funny...

With Swiss Bank execs recently volunteering to take drastic pay cuts, it makes typical American CEOs--especially ones at the helm of struggling companies--look quite greedy when they continue to collect salaries hundreds of times more than their average worker while also using company funds to travel high on the hog. Impressively, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli recently announced that he would accept a salary of $1 per year if it helped his company get much-needed federal assistance. GM's Wagoner dodged the issue, but did say he'd previously cut his salary 50 percent. Ford's Mulally, however, who made $21 million last year at Ford, "said he was concerned that cutting compensation might cause the company to lose executives and be unable to attract top talent," according to Automotive News. Not exactly taking one for the team, is it?--Colin Mathews

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Comments (4)
  1. Mulally was just recently hired to fix the torpedo holes in the USS Ford/Lincoln/Mercury. He's already done a lot to right the ship. In fact, his prudence in securing operating cash last year is the only reason Ford has sufficient cash on hand for 2009, vs Gm and Chrysler, who have months to live. Why would a high talent exec, recently recruited from a successful company he already turned around(Boeing)to come fix this mess he didn't create, want to come do it for free? Who the hell would sign on for that? Would you?
    This isn't China.
    That's not common sense.

  2. So we would expect the executives to try and reserve a row of seats on a commercial airliner in any class and have them talk about company business across that row where everyone can hear them speak? That will be even better for business, I'm sure.
    Business aircraft are a way to transport the executives of a company in privacy while allowing them to get work done. Are there some who abuse this privilege? Sure, but why don't we ask some of the folks in Congress if they have ever accepted a ride on a business aircraft.
    Business aircraft can get business people closer to the action and in a timely fashion. While commercial airlines serve about 550 airports nationwide through a hub and spoke system requiring transfers and extra time, business aircraft have access to about 5000 airports nationwide. Some businesses use their aircraft to transport groups of people to two and even three cities in one day, try that on an airline. When is the last time you used the airlines to visit more than one city in a single day for a meeting or any other significant event?
    Finally, GM was already working on selling the two jets in question, it wasn't the Congressional rebuke that shamed them into doing it. Am I defending GM as far as the bail-out? No. But I will always defend the right of businesses to use an aircraft to successfully manage their business.

  3. Johns points are well taken--but shouldn't the car manufacturers themselves be making these statements? I didn't read that they stood up to the grandstanding congressional panel (who themselves take private flights), though perhaps that's not the right forum to emphasize the point. Maybe if Mulalley stood up there, refused bailout money and told these pompous windbag congressmen to go back down to the basement where their poll numbers live. I'm thinking this situation is similar to outrunning a bear. I don't have to run faster than the bear, only faster than the guy next to me. Would love to be there when the CEOs return to Washington. Do they Ro-Sham-Bo to see who goes first?

  4. R2dad -
    You're right, they gave up way too easily. Anyone of them could have stood their ground and told congress and the press that it is a business tool for companies. If I am a shareholder I think I would much rather have my CEO and others travel as quickly as possible versus spending an entire day in a car. I hope the rest of the business community now uses them as an example of poor business planning. The jets weren't the problem but it appears that asking them about the jets has exposed the true issue, a severe lack of business judgement.

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