CEO personal travel at co. expense 'still flying high': report

As I noted in Sunday's column, corporate perks for CEOs at 200 top companies shrank last year, according to the latest yearly study by Philadelphia-based Hay Group.

But CEO personal travel by corporate is "still flying high" at hundreds of companies, as the cost of keeping those Learjets and Gulfstreams mobile goes up, writes researcher Michelle Lamb at The Corporate Library.

Top corporate spenders on bosses' personal jet trips included preppy clothing vendor Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which burned $1.3 million to keep ceo Michael S. Jeffries aloft; Wynn Resorts Ltd., which wants to build a casino in Philadelphia, spent $1.1 million jetting boss Stephen Wynn ("for security purposes," though he also has a company car and driver); and troubled lender CompuCredit Holdings Corp. spent $1 million shuttling ceo David G. Hanna and his family in style.

"Sharehoulders would be best served by CEOs reimbursing their companies for the equivalent of commercial airfare for themselves and those traveling with them on personal trips," writes Lamb. Of the Russell 3000 companies, 397 reported CEO aircraft expenses last year, down a bit from 402 the year before. But the average cost of boss flight time per company rose 9 percent, to $131,000.

"Aircfaft expense is not high compared to some other questionable compensation policites, like discretionary bonuses or market-priced stock options, but the very fact it is not common practice makes it even more important to pay attention," according to Lamb.