The word "security" has taken on a powerful meaning since 9-11, and it is seldom questioned as the motivation for anything. But when the big-3 automakers insist that their CEO's must travel to Washington by private jet for reasons pertaining to their "security" -- that becomes a bit of a tough sell.
Especially when you consider that their trip to Washington is to ask for money. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for companies to own aircraft and executives to use them. They fly privately for reasons of efficiency, safety and time savings -- many CEO's fly with assistants and entire departmental management staffs, and often have meetings en route, and several stops a day which would be impossible to do by commercial air.
We've used chartered aircraft in our own business when commercial flights aren't available, and when the need is urgent to get from point A to point B. But yesterday, with all the attention on the automakers and their need for money given the colossal failure of their industry...yesterday was not the time for the three automotive chiefs to arrive in Washington on-board three separate private jets. It was just bad P.R., plain and simple.
Citing CEO's "security" as a justification is a bit shaky: what are the real chances that Chrysler Chief Bob Nardelli is going to be attacked (or generally in any grave danger) while in a first class airline seat on a commercial flight to Washington? It turns out the only attack had to do with Congressional, media and public reaction to his flight to Washington by private jet. As the proud and loyal owner of two American cars, I am conflicted, like so many other Americans, as to the state of the car business in this country. This is a colossal story right now, and we'll keep covering it. We hope you can join us tonight.