Two retailers and their corporate jets…

April 4, 2008

I would have preferred to get through the week without hearing the phrase “FAA whistleblowers.” Here we are, already trying to survive various and sundry blows to the global economy. And now, as we’re sitting on the runway, we’ll be wondering if anyone has recently inspected the Scotch tape that’s keeping the wing on the plane to make sure it’s still sticky.

Of course, no such anxieties plague those CEOs who log their miles, including personal travel, on private company-owned planes. Speaking of which, our latest jet-setting poster boy is J.C. Penney (JCP) Chairman/CEO Myron Ullman III, who managed to rack up an impressive $416K worth of personal transportation on the corporate jet last year (proxy here).

Executives at Rent-A-Center (RCII) also have the privilege of using the company jet for personal travel, but in their case the perk is subject to some unusual conditions. First, absent a special nod from the Audit Committee Chairman, executives may only charter the plane for personal use once a quarter, and they must make a reservation and put up a deposit of 110% of the estimated expense. If the flight ends up costing more than that, the additional amount goes on their W-2. (Since the perks chart in the proxy doesn’t include any figures for personal air travel, it looks like these limitations kept the amounts below the perk disclosure threshold.)

So Rent-a-Center gets a Gold Star. Meanwhile, regular folks get to add airline safety concerns to the growing list of reasons not to be cheerful.

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