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
drew flack from lawmakers, the press, and taxpayer watchdog
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
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.