DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. may sell its fleet of five corporate jets after top executives of the three Detroit automakers were harshly criticized by members of Congress this week for their travel expenses.
In a statement issued Friday, Ford said it is exploring all options for the fleet, which it said has been reduced from nine in 2005.
“Ford’s top priority is to continue making progress on our transformation plan, and we do not want anything to distract us,” spokesman Mark Truby said in a statement.
The announcement comes just days after Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli and General Motors Corp. CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. traveled to Washington on separate corporate jets to seek $25 billion in government loans.
Truby said that of the five remaining jets, three are used for executive travel, while the other two shuttle employees such as engineers to factories where new products are being launched.
GM said Thursday it was in the process of returning two of its five leased corporate jets to the leasing company.
Spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the company planned to return the jets because travel spending had been cut. The jets were scheduled to be returned even before the automakers were criticized in Washington, he said.
“It would have been done anyway,” Wilkinson said. “It’s just the travel cutbacks have been so severe. It’s just not being used.”
GM started the year with seven leased jets but returned two of them in September, Wilkinson said.
Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff would not comment on its jets.