Financially ailing Chrysler Corp. finally is making the supreme sacrifice in its bid to regain its solvency: It's selling off the last of its corporate air force.
Under orders from the government loan guarantee board, the automaker is turning the aircraft over to a broker this morning. Chrysler hopes to garner as much as $11 million for the two -- a Gulfstream II and a Lear 35A.
Chrysler officials had hoped to sell the two planes on their own, avoiding a 3 percent to 5 percent broker's fee, but they were unable to do so in the current sluggish used-plane market.
A company spokesman said the firm had received inuiries from "several interested parties," but was unable to unload the two jets by yesterday's deadline. Sources said the broker's fee still is being negotiated.
However, giving up the company's own jet fleet won't necessarily mean that Chrysler executives will be grounded. The board agreed informally yesterday to allow the firm to lease one corporate jet.
Although nothing is official yet, Chrysler officials are said to have their eyes on a twin-engine Citation. Leasing executive jets usually costs less than owning them, especially given the extra tax writeoff.
The mandate to sell the two remaining jets by late March or give them up to a broker was part of the conditions set for allowing the automaker access to the final $400 million of its government loan guarantee.