Mark Fields under fire for expensive flights home

Steve Wilson, a reporter for WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit, has taken the President of the Americas for Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields, to task for the weekly flights the executive takes from Detroit to his home in Delray Beach, Florida. Fields uses a company jet for the flights, which itself isn't the issue since the trips are approved by his employment contract. Wilson, however, estimates that each weekly trip costs between $50,000 and $70,000, essentially an entire year's salary for many who work at Ford. Those high figures include the cost of flying one passenger with a crew of three, and either putting the crew up in a luxury hotel for the weekend or having the jet return to Detroit and fly back to fetch Fields before Monday.
Fields has been quoted as saying, "We are making sacrifices at every level." The person who hired Fields, ex-CEO Bill Ford Jr., surely made sacrifices. The great-grandson of Henry Ford announced he would forego any and all compensation back in May of 2005 until his family's company begins turning a profit again. Of course, Mark Fields is not a member of the Ford family and no expects him to forego a salary, which last year reportedly amounted to $3 million including a $1 million bonus. Wilson, however, clearly sees the hypocrisy of an executive asking his workforce to sacrifice their wages, health care and even their jobs while he drains the company of funds he could cleary afford to cover himself.

The weekly trips home on the company jet are seen by Ford as an incentive to attract and retain talent the automaker sorely needs to turn its fortunes around. Hopefully Mark Fields is the man for that job, and if he succeeds we won't say a word every time he boards the Blue Oval jet. But at this moment when Ford is struggling to remain solvent, even if the overall impact is minimal, the gesture of foregoing some of those expensive perks goes a long way.

Thanks to Joe for the tip!


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