VW Cuts Back Jet-Set Lifestyle With Plans to Sell Airbus Planeby and
Automaker to continue flights among brands with smaller planes
CEO seeking to cut costs in wake of emissions cheating scandal
Volkswagen AG executives will soon have to lower their expectations for company flights.
Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller announced on Thursday that he will get rid of the automaker’s Airbus A319 as part of a broader plan to rein in costs in the wake of the emissions cheating scandal. The jet, a common sight in the fleets of commercial airlines, is the largest in a group of aircraft that VW uses to shuttle top executives among the group’s 12 brands and more than 100 factories.
“A company the size of Volkswagen needs its own flight service, but we don’t
need our own Airbus and that we’re going to sell," Mueller, who took over as CEO in late September, said at a press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany, to discuss the status of the investigation into the scandal.
Putting the aircraft up for sale signals a departure from the opulent corporate lifestyle Volkswagen portrayed before the crisis hit and forced Mueller to scour his empire for savings. He’s already scrapped a new design center at the headquarters in Wolfsburg that would have cost 100 million euros ($109 million), while vowing to keep intact the stable of 12 brands that make up the Volkswagen group.
The A319 is a compact variant in the popular A320 family of single-aisle short-haul aircraft produced by Airbus. The jet would typically seat about 130 people in a normal commercial configuration, though Airbus also provides a version for corporate customers, including a circular seating layout or full-size bathrooms with showers.
Volkswagen isn’t the only German company putting aircraft up for sale as a sign of austerity. Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG ditched its 10-seater Falcon 2000LX corporate jet, and travel operator TUI AG got rid of its Challenger 604 corporate jet.