Published November 21, 2008
On Wednesday, the top brass at Detroit's Big Three automakers got run over in Congress and the press for flying to Washington aboard luxurious private jets to beg for a $25 billion industry bailout.
Two days later, on Friday, General Motors Corp. announced that it is terminating the leases on two of its five private jets in an effort "to cut costs."
Only three jets to go. If this keeps up, can it be long before they'll be traveling in coach?
GM spokesman Mike Meyerand told FOXNews that, until recently, the company leased seven corporate jets. The automaker "got out of" two of those leases in September, and two more on Friday.
Meyerand said the three remaining corporate jets would remain at the disposal of "only the very top senior leadership."
Asked if it was not the use of such aircraft by the "very top senior leadership" that occasioned this week's outcry, Meyerand said that was for the media to conclude.
GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, whose round-trip flight to Washington reportedly cost $20,000 — about 70 times what a commercial airline ticket would cost — told Congress he expected GM would get between $10 billion and $12 billion from the requested bailout.
Joined by Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Alan Mulally of Ford, Wagoner told the Senate that a collapse in Detroit could cost 3 million jobs in one year and damage the economy in communities across the country.
Ford and Chrysler did not comment on their future corporate jet policies, but Chrysler confirmed that it does lease private jets, Reuters reported on Friday.
"This is a slap in the face of taxpayers," Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told ABC News. "To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a handout is outrageous."