Reacting to PR Disaster, Ford and GM Bolt Their Hangar Doors

If proponents of the benefits of business aviation were holding out hope of any defense from Ford or GM, they can officially forget about it. Ford and GM both announced Tuesday they will close their flight departments and divest of their aircraft. The move follows a stinging PR debacle involving CEOs from the Big Three flying to Washington in company jets to plead for $25 billion in bailout cash. According to ABC News, GM spokesman Mike Meyerand said of the corporate fleet, "We don't use them much anyway. It saves us a lot of money to get out of this business." (Chrysler told the network it does not operate its own aircraft, but leases them on an as-needed basis from "an outside aircraft operator.") Despite quiet assertions of the value of corporate flying during more robust economic times, there is a long history of high-profile companies abandoning legacy flight departments when the wolf comes lurking outside C-suite doors. With each of Ford's and GM's top executives making their next trip to D.C. at the wheel of one of their respective hybrids, it should come as no surprise that corporate aviation with its "luxury jets" has been summarily thrown under the bus.