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Sun, Nov 23, 2008

Two Of Detroit's Big Three Automakers Reducing Fleets

GM, Ford Both Cutting Costs After Congressional Criticism

On Wednesday, top executives from Detroit's Big Three automakers appeared before Congress to ask for a $25 billion industry bailout... but instead were dressed down for their lavish travel expenses to Washington and basically having no plan for what to do with the money.

The three execs -- Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli and General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner -- each flew to Washington in their own private corporate jets. That logistical misfire drew flack from lawmakers, the press, and taxpayer watchdog groups.

Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told ABC News, "This is a slap in the face of taxpayers. To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a handout is outrageous."

On Friday, General Motors Corporation and Ford Motor Company both issued statements announcing their intention to cut travel costs by reducing the size of their corporate jet fleets.

GM spokesman Mike Meyerand said the leases on two of the company's seven jets were terminated in September, and two more were ended on Friday. Reducing GM's fleet to three planes, those remaining will be used by "only the very top senior leadership," he told FOX News.

"It would have been done anyway," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said, indicating the company had already made plans to return the jets due to cuts in travel spending even before the automaker executives were criticized in Washington. "It's just the travel cutbacks have been so severe. It's just not being used."

Ford's fleet has already reduced from nine jets in 2005 to five, and the company's statement suggested it may be selling those. Ford spokesman Mark Truby said, "Ford's top priority is to continue making progress on our transformation plan, and we do not want anything to distract us. We are exploring all cost-effective solutions for our air travel."

Truby said that of the five remaining jets, only three are used for executive travel, while the other two transport other employees such as engineers to factories for new product testing, the Associated Press reported.

Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff had no comment on whether Chrysler had similar plans for its corporate jets.

FMI: www.ford.com, www.gm.com, www.cagw.org

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