Boy, to read the comments left on the online version of the Detroit Free Press a lot of folks sure don't like corporate aviation. It seems the rank and file feel that executives flying on corporate jets is a huge wast of money, but then I would guess they think the salaries they make irk them even more.
The truth is that ever since the investment bankers on Wall Street with firms like Lehman Brothers and the like began making huge salaries and bonuses for putting together mergers those types of compensation plans found their way into the main stream of corporate boardrooms. To complicate the matter even further bonuses were tied to the stock value of the company, which drove CEOs to make short term decisions based not on what was best for the company but rather what was best for their benefit.
After all, much like coaches for professional sports teams turnover is a fact of life, so these CEOs figure they should get while the getting is good. All of which takes everyone's eyes off the ball. It is easy to challenge symbols of power without considering the real life effects those symbols may have. Back in the late 60's and early 70's Bill Lear of Learjet fame convinced company executives that flying on a corporate jet made a lot of sense, and could be justified by the time they would save. Thus the idea that corporate jets were "time machines".
Having run a flight department many years ago and having gone through the excerise of justifying corporate aircraft I can tell you that it is an inexact science; however, many companies have been able to grow substantially while keeping their organizations relatively flat through the use of corporate aircraft and getting better time utilization of their management teams.
But in the case of GM, Ford and Chrysler even this misses the mark. When we are talking about $ 34 billion - that's right Billions of Dollars - the corporate flight department expense is like a fly on the rump of a horse. It doesn't mean anything. Take a few minutes and look at how spread out across the country the automakers plants are, and their suppliers, and then think about the last time you flew commercial. You can't get from point A to point B on a commercial airliner without it taking a full day. It's just not an efficient way to travel.
I say this is a diversion to take the pressure off of Congress who have a lot of responsibility for this financial debacle with their insistence on providing home loans to anyone regardless of credit history or proof of earnings, and then rewarding the likes of Frank Raines with $ 90 million when he walks away from Fannie Mae leaving it bankrupt while Barnie Frank praises his leadership. And these idots criticize the CEOs of Ford, Chrysler and GM? Now they want to manage the car companies? If you think it is bad now, just wait until you get your battery powered car (the only kind you can buy) and forget to plug it in the night before and now can't get to work. Let's get real here folks!
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.