December 4, 2008

Corporations are parking or selling jets

Increasing numbers of U.S. corporations say they are parking or selling their private jets as the economy slows and the icons of luxury face public criticism.

Executives of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC were roundly scolded for flying corporate jets to Washington two weeks ago for hearings in which they asked for a taxpayer bailout of the struggling industry.

Detroit's Big Three have since said they will sell some or all of their jets. Officials with AT&T, Citigroup Inc., mining company Ur-Energy and Gannett, publisher of USA Today, also said they would sell jets, USA Today reported Thursday.

Gannet sold two of its three jets several months ago, the newspaper said.

The corporate jet is a money-loser that has to be justified to shareholders, Vaughn Cordle, chief analyst of Airline Forecast, told the newspaper. I'd be shocked if a significant number of companies don't sell their corporate jets or not renew jet leases, Cordle said.

In the wake of public criticism, Robert Wagoner, GM's chief executive officer drove a hybrid car to Washington for a second round of hearings. Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli also took cars to the hearings.