CEOs' corporate jet use climbs

Executives' use of corporate jets for personal travel has skyrocketed since the pandemic's onset, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 16.

In 2022, S&P 500 companies spent $65 million for executives to use corporate jets for personal travel — a 55% increase from 2019, according to the report. Analysts believe this trend continued into 2023, based on preliminary data. 

Equilar reported a 92% surge in corporate spending on personal flights since March 2022. In the three previous years, the number of firms offering private jets to executives rose 14%. CEOs, specifically, use the bulk of the benefit budget. 

Fuel costs were higher in 2022 but do not account for all the heightened spending. Companies' personal travel costs have outpaced overall growth in business jet traffic, as takeoffs and landings have increased only 19% since 2019. 

Corporate jets symbolize "corporate success and, to critics, excess," according to the Journal

And although "excess" is not commonly used to describe health systems' finances, the sector's larger companies are not excluded from this narrative. Four of the largest for-profit health systems in the U.S. — Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services — have reported that their CEOs can use the corporate jet for personal travel, according to SEC filings. Cardinal Health, a Dublin, Ohio-based healthcare services company, was among the companies that expanded the perk amid the pandemic, citing health and safety concerns. 

The multimillion-dollar spend might appear massive, but corporate jet use hardly dents these companies' budgets, according to the Journal. And although use of the perk is on the rise, it is still relatively uncommon. 

"The vast majority of S&P 500 companies do not offer this perk," Rosanna Landis Weaver, an executive-pay analyst at nonprofit shareholder-advocacy group As You Sow, told the Journal. Her group produces an annual list of "overpaid CEOs." View the most recent report — including 15 names with a specific interest in healthcare — here.

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