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GE’s Board Says It Had No Idea About the CEO’s Spare Plane

October 30, 2017

General Electric (GE) executives didn’t tell their board until October about a spare business jet that routinely flew for its now-retired chief executive, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Executives also didn’t tell directors that the conglomerate had received an internal complaint about the jet several years ago, the publication’s sources added.

The WSJ reported on October 18 that former Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt had an extra aircraft follow his corporate jet on some overseas trips during much of his 16 years in the role, as a precaution in case the jet carrying Immelt developed problems. GE executives first informed the board about the practice after the report, the WSJ said.

GE told its directors the company had scaled back the practice in mid-2014 and would continue to use the backup plane only in limited situations, such as going to risky locations, the Journal reported.

Immelt told the Journal on Thursday that he did not know the spare plane was flying.

Immelt, 61, stepped down as CEO on August 1 and planned to continue as chairman through December 31. But John Flannery was named chairman on October 2.

Flannery has grounded GE’s corporate aircraft fleet to cut costs and initiated a new policy under which executives will fly on commercial or charter flights, the WSJ said.