My colleague Kerry Lynch wrote a small story in this week's issue of The Weekly of Business Aviation
on the closing of the Sears Aviation Department Jan. 31 after 64 years in operation.
“The company decided to use commercial airline service and a limited amount of charter for its travel needs,” said Larry Studer, aircraft maintenance manager/facilities for Sears Holdings Corp.
The Sears Aviation Department was established in 1946 at Chicago Midway Airport with two Douglas DC-3 aircraft. The department moved to DuPage Airport in West Chicago, Ill. in 2002. The flight department flew a range of aircraft types over the years and enjoyed an accident-free history. Sears recently operated two Bombardier Learjet 60s. The facility employed 28 people, according to Manta.
The company didn't comment further on the reason for the move, but Sears Holdings Corp. has had its ups and downs even after merging with Kmart back in 2005.
But The Great Recession, coupled with the media backlash against companies flying corporate jets after the Big Three automakers debacle back in November 2008 probably did not help matters. Both General Motors and Ford shut down their flight departments after the media and congressional backlash.
Like GM and Ford, I'm sure Sears Holdings Corp. has suppliers all over the world, with many not easily accessible by the commercial airline system. Even for those suppliers with commercial air service, you have to wonder how much time executives will waste in spotty flight schedules, system delays and hotel costs, among other things? I'm sure they have weighed all this in the decision to close the department. But it does make you wonder...