Publicity Debacle Precedes Paring Down of Carmakers Jet Fleets

The image of bailout-seeking executives from the Big Three automakers arriving in Washington, D.C., aboard corporate jets was a lightning rod for the press. Even morning curmudgeon Don Imus, a 12-year NetJets customer (NetJets is also a sponsor of his show), could not help complaining that "we shouldn't have to pay" for their private jet travel. Citizens Against Government Waste went much further, telling ABC News the practice was "outrageous." Feeling the heat for some of the bad press, Ford and GM have both downsized their corporate flight departments. GM has cut its fleet of leased aircraft to three jets from seven; and Ford has cut its fleet from nine aircraft in 2005 to five. Of those five, two are corporate shuttles, moving middle-level employees to and from company facilities, while three jets are used for executive transport, according to a Ford spokesman. Chrysler had no comment on any plans for its corporate jet fleet.