December 2, 2008— -- Ford and General Motors will sell their fleet of corporate luxury jets, the two struggling auto companies announced today.
The move comes two weeks after ABC News revealed Ford CEO Alan Mulally, GM CEO Rick Wagoner and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli traveled to Washington in private jets to plead poverty and ask Congress for $25 billion in taxpayer money.
In a statement, GM said, "Due to significant cutbacks over the past months, GM travel volume no longer justified a dedicated corporate aircraft operation."
"We don't use them much anyway," said GM spokesman Mike Meyerand. "It saves us a lot of money to get out of this business," he said.
Ford also confirmed that it has decided to sell its five corporate aircraft.
Chrysler said it does not have a corporate jet facility, and instead leases jets on an as-needed basis from an outside aircraft operator. Chrysler spokesman Ed Garsten said the company is "weighing its options for future corporate travel."
The auto companies initially said the ABC News stories about their CEOs flying private jets were "a distraction" and claimed the CEOs were "required" by the corporate boards to travel in private aircraft.
They were met with stinging criticism as they appeared before the Congressional committees considering their request for a taxpayer bailout.
None of the CEOs plans to fly in private aircraft for their scheduled appearance before Congress on Thursday.
Corporate Jets to Corporate Cars
Ford CEO Mulally is reportedly driving, or being driven, to Washington in one of the company's new Escape Hybrid cars. Mulally also announced he was prepared to work for a salary of $1 a year "as a sign of his confidence in the company's transformation plan and future."
Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli is expected to drive to Washington in a Chrysler Aspen hybrid.
GM CEO Wagoner is expected to arrive in a Malibu hybrid. GM did not say whether he would actually be behind the wheel.
As to its fleet of private jets, GM said it was "pursuing sale of four of the aircraft so it can terminate the leases."
GM leases seven planes, four of which are currently parked. With today's announcement, GM is trying to sell the leases of those four planes. The other three leased planes went to another air company that provides planes to other companies.
It said it would shutter its large General Motors Air Transportation Services hangar at Detroit Metro Airport as of January 1, 2009.