Kodak spends $1/4m on private jets to Vegas
November 8, 2011
The Kodak CEO?s private jet trips to Las Vegas for business meetings cost the firm more than a quarter of a million dollars at a time it was battling losses.
The news comes amid ongoing concerns about Eastman Kodak?s cash position and reports today that Kodak is selling its image sensor business to California-based company, Platinum Equity.
Las Vegas – known to tourists as ?Sin City? – is a magnet for business conferences, including the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
The world?s camera manufacturers are also enticed to the Nevada city for the Photo Marketing Association trade show which last took place there in 2009.
Kodak directors insist that CEO Antonio Perez – who earned over $1m in basic pay in 2010 – travels by company jet on business, for personal security reasons.
Figures obtained by Amateur Photographer (AP) show that two private jets used by Kodak racked up estimated costs of $294,404 (over £182,000) between 1 January 2007 and 1 January 2011.
Most of the 19 flights between Rochester, New York (where Kodak is based) and Vegas occurred in 2007 and 2008.
Kodak used two planes for trips to Las Vegas over the four-year period, a 23-seater and a 22-seater aircraft.
Other senior Kodak executives are allowed to travel on the planes. Spouses are also permitted to accompany them on business trips.
Kodak declined to confirm how many of its directors are allowed to use the aircraft but we understand that only a handful of named executives are eligible for the perk.
The expenses are contained in data AP retrieved from the Wall Street Journal?s online Jet Tracker service.
The latest journey for which figures are available occurred on 5 January 2010 (around the time of CES) when a flight from Rochester cost $14,303 and the return trip, on 11 January, $14,888.
Asked if it may have been prudent to use less costly commercial transport while the company was losing money, Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda told us: ?As is typical in major organisations, the Kodak board of Directors has set a policy that the CEO should travel on the company jet.?
Veronda, who declined to comment on specific trips, added: ?Trips to Las Vegas were for business travel ? remember that Las Vegas is the site of the Consumer Electronics Show that is very important to Kodak?s business and where Mr Perez conducted many meetings with key customers and participated as a speaker in industry forums.?
Last month Reuters news agency reported that Perez used the plane for personal travel to his hometown of Vigo in Spain, several times per year.
According to a ?proxy statement?, which Kodak is required to provide to shareholders, Kodak incurred a cost of $309,407 through Perez?s ?personal aircraft usage? in 2010.
The statement, which is posted online, adds: ?During the course of 2010, Mr Perez was required to travel [to Spain] due to medical emergencies concerning an immediate family member, which led to an increase in his personal use of the Company aircraft relative to prior years.?
Kodak limits CEO’s jet expenses
Since 1 January 2011, Kodak has restricted the CEO?s personal travel costs to $100,000 per year.
This means that Perez (pictured) – who was made CEO in 2005 – must reimburse the company for expenses exceeding this figure.
The Jet Tracker data shows that Kodak has also used a private jet for trips to the UK.
A single flight from Rochester to Luton Airport on 23 May 2010, using a different private plane, was estimated to have cost $29,791.
Just before Christmas last year (19 December 2010) a private flight from Anchorage to Tokyo cost Kodak $32,079.
In the past, Kodak has said it is ‘targeting fast-growing markets in Asia as a key opportunity’.
A first class return ticket from New York to Vegas costs from £1,004, according to the Continental Airlines website.
Rochester is located around 250 miles from New York City.