Last November, while appearing before a Congressional inquiry in Washington, D.C., CEOs of the Big Three auto companies were criticized and admonished for flying on private jets to attend the meetings.
The CEOs were in Washington to request taxpayer bailout money to help keep their companies out of bankruptcy and, as is standard procedure for each company, flew on their companies’ corporate jets. Understandably, this did not sit well with members of the Congressional committee.
Several Congressmen pointed out the irony of the CEOs flying into Washington with tin cups in their hand and compared the scene to a guy showing up at a soup kitchen wearing a high hat and tuxedo.
The three auto execs did not respond directly to the questions, but at least one, in a later trip to the nation’s Capitol, drove a hybrid vehicle.
While the reaction of the Congressmen can be argued as being appropriate, especially in light of the reason the auto execs were there, I wonder what the Congressmen would have thought if the conversation had gone something like this.
Congressman: Mr. Auto Executive, how did you get here today?
Auto Executive: Sir, I flew here on a Gulfstream IV jet built in Savannah, Georgia, by one of the most proud and dedicated workforces in our nation. Gulfstream employs over 6,200 workers in Georgia and, along with suppliers, accounted for over $655 million in payroll in 2008.
Sir, the Gulfstream IV jet is one of the finest jets made and, while it may seem inappropriate for me to have chosen this mode of transportation for this meeting, business aviation is an essential business tool that provides a very real competitive edge to those who use it wisely.
Furthermore, sir, business aviation is a vital component of general aviation, as it provides over 1.2 million high-paying, technical jobs whose collective earnings exceed $53 billion. The ripple effect is multiplied as the sale and operation of aircraft multiplies as they trigger transactions and create jobs elsewhere in the economy.
Also sir, general aviation contributes over $150 billion to the U.S. economy each year and is a critical stimulus for the economy. In fact, general aviation manufacturing is one of the few remaining industries contributing positively to the U.S. balance of trade.
Sir, general aviation manufacturing represents the best of cutting-edge design, investment and ingenuity. Even in the current economic climate, manufacturers are continuing to invest in the research and development of new products.
Congressman: Mr. Auto Executive, I certainly agree that business aviation contributes heavily to our nation’s economy, but how is it critical to supporting and maintaining our nation’s infrastructure?
Auto Executive: Sir, business aircraft can use about 10 times more airports in the U. S. than scheduled airlines serve. Companies are building factories and using suppliers where the business airplane can go. Business aviation keeps America connected and infuses urban and rural areas with much-need tax revenue and jobs.
Congressman: Mr. Auto Executive, before long, you may be trying to tell me that business aviation is a crucial part of the humanitarian support network in the U.S.
Auto Executive: Sir, volunteer pilots in the U.S. fly over 118,000 hours per year in support of charitable and humanitarian efforts. In fact, in 2008, just four out of the hundreds of these organizations flew over 15,000 missions alone.
Sir, while it may have been inappropriate for me to have flown on a corporate jet for this particular meeting, it should not reflect negatively on the business aviation industry that is a vital component of our nation’s economy and infrastructure.
Congressman: Mr. Auto Executive, thank you for pointing out the many positive benefits that business aviation brings to our nation and thank you for supporting the proud and dedicated workforce in Savannah, Georgia, by flying a Gulfstream IV jet.