The Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2012
General Motors Co. still isn’t free of government restrictions on executive pay as a result of its agreement to buy back shares owned by the U.S. Treasury, but company executives are getting something almost as good as money: Permission to use corporate jets.
GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said during a conference call that as part of its $5.5 billion agreement to buy back 200 million of the government’s 500 million shares, the feds are loosening some of the constraints on management.
“There is a handful of things that have been waived,” Mr. Ammann said, “including the corporate jet aspect.” Mr. Ammann added in response to a question about when GM might lease or buy some jets, “we have no current plans at this time.”
That should be enough of a hint for marketers of corporate jets and jet-sharing services. GM CEO Dan Akerson and other top company executives make no secret of their frustration at having to fly commercial to the far reaches of GM’s global empire. Mr. Akerson told a story at the company’s recent holiday reception about spending hours stuck in airports on the way to meetings in Russia.
The Obama administration’s prohibition on corporate jet travel for executives of bailed-out auto makers is a legacy of the outrage provoked in 2008 when the then-CEO of GM, Rick Wagoner, and his counterparts at Chrysler and Ford flew to Washington in their respective company jets to make the case for taxpayer-funded bailouts to get through the recession.