With private aviation travel in the crosshairs amid continuing reports about government officials using private jets and the revelation that General Electric sent a backup plane to trail its former CEO Jeff Immelt in case of a mechanical, Bloomberg View’s Joe Nocera wrote, “In Defense of Corporate Aircraft. No, Really.”
Among the examples he cited:
There isn’t a company in the U.S. more frugal than Walmart; when its executives are on the road, the company expects them to double up and share hotel rooms. Yet it maintains the biggest corporate fleet in the country, around 20 corporate aircraft. Its former director of global travel services, Duane Futch, has said that Walmart uses its jets primarily for regional vice-presidents who have to frequently visit the stores in their territory. It also saves them from having to stay overnight. “Efficiency of time is one of the main reasons we have the corporate fleet.”
And then he noted:
Many industry experts doubt that GE will save all that much by eliminating its corporate jets. As a recent Bloomberg story noted, its used planes won’t generate much cash, given the glut of used jets on the market. As GE executives, needing to put time over money, start using expensive charter jets, they may well wind up spending more of the company’s money, not less.
In rating GE’s new CEO John Flannery, he added:
You usually expect politicians to embrace symbolic acts even when they’re counterproductive. You don’t expect it from the chief executive of General Electric. Yet that’s exactly what he’s done. I don’t know if Flannery is right to be cutting research centers, but I am sure he’s wrong to be cutting out the company’s corporate jet. To me, it’s a red flag about the new man in charge.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) recently published an in-depth third-party report showing that companies that use private aviation outperform non-users in both sales and profit growth.