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Friday, February 09, 2007

Planes, Politics and Business

Three of my favorite topics--all rolled up in one post. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, can ride in a military plane. As someone who has flown commercially and has flown in a private plane (albeit a 4 seater Piper Archer that only gets around 120-150 NMH), I can testify that private is so much easier. No long lines. No security. You ready to go? You leave. You land at an airport--usually the FBOs have nice treats and a supply of mouthwash, feminine hygiene products, hairspray and lotion in the bathrooms. What more can you ask for?

Well, if you're Nancy Pelosi, you ask for a Bigger Jet. She claims it is because the one used by the former Speaker can't make it to her home in San Francisco without stopping.

I have a hard time believing that. She says it's about security and not about her comfort. While I can't see any reason why it could truly be a security issue, she blew that by her next offer: Flying Commercial.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she might decline the use of Air Force planes to travel from Washington to her San Francisco district because the Pentagon won't guarantee her an aircraft that can make the trip non-stop.

``I have said that I am happy to ride commercial if the plane they have doesn't go coast to coast,'' Pelosi said today.

Nancy, darling, now you're sounding like a martyr. It's not about security--you'd be much safer on a military jet. It's not even about time. The amount of time it would take to fly commercial (including delays, missed flights and security lines) would be so much longer than flying in the military jet and stopping in North Dakota to refuel.

So, her extravagent request got exposed and now she's backpedaling and she's going to end up worse off than she was before. What did our mothers tell us? If you can't say something nice (about your free jet rides), don't say anything at all or you may und up in a middle seat in coach squished by two people who don't believe in regular showers? (I think that was how my mother said it, anyway.)

So, what does this have to do with business?

Just ask Mark Fields.
The head of Ford Motor Co.'s (NYSE:F - News) money-losing North American operations on Thursday told employees that he had given up use of a corporate jet for personal travel, an expensive benefit that had come under fire...
Fields trips from Detroit to his home in Florida became controversial in recent weeks after the provision in his contract was highlighted by a Detroit television station and challenged at a time when the automaker is losing billions and slashing jobs.
The cost of flying Fields for the fourth quarter of 2005 was $214,479, according to a proxy statement filed by Ford with the Securities and Exchange Commission in April. The automaker has not yet disclosed the cost for 2006.

Those that have to fly coach are not amused by such extravegant perks. For some reason, people will put up with excessive stock options, second homes, and drivers, but boy do we not like executives using corporate jets for personal use.

Speaker Pelosi should remember this if she wants to maintain her power. Most Executives should remember this--you never know when it will appear in the paper.


ArtK said...

Did you see that there was some follow-up to this? That Pelosi didn't make the request, but it was done by the House Sergeant-at-Arms. He stated that it was for security purposes.

Anonymous said...