GE Wants to Know Why Former CEO Jeff Immelt Traveled the World With a Spare Jet
GE (GE) recently conducted an internal review to understand why a spare business jet accompanied former Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on his travels, and why no one on the board knew anything about it.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, GE’s vice president of litigation and legal policy, Mr. William “Mo” Cowan, led a recent effort to find out who knew about, and approved, the extra plane. The findings of the investigation were discussed at a GE board meeting last week, people familiar with the matter said, though it’s unclear whether the findings will be made public.
According to the WSJ, Immelt has said (including in a recent letter to GE’s board), that he wasn’t aware of the backup jet, and that he put a stop to it as soon as it was discovered in 2014. GE has said that the spare jet was discontinued in 2014, and was allowed only in special scenarios such as overseas trips with security risks and “business critical itineraries”.
However, according to flight records and people familiar with the matter, the extra plane was used until at least the spring of 2017.
GE’s use of the spare plane was a particular sore point with shareholders and analysts, as the two plane-practice was upheld while the company was in the midst of a cash crunch. According to the WSJ, the company spent several million dollars annually on aircraft travel for Mr. Immelt, citing those familiar with the situation.
GE has announced heavy restructuring this year, and has been forced to slash its dividend for just the second time since the Great Depression. And, last week, GE announced it would cut 12,000 jobs in its power division.