The boss of an American telecoms company has secured a special deal allowing his step-daughter to commute more than 800 miles to school on a corporate jet.
Qwest Communications, a firm founded by the Millennium Dome tycoon Philip Anschutz, has added a clause to the employment contract of its chief executive, Edward Mueller, permitting his wife and stepdaughter to use its aircraft to hop across the Rocky Mountains between Colorado and California.
Mr Mueller, who was appointed last month, is moving from his west coast home to Qwest´s base in Denver. The clause allows his stepdaughter to avoid changing schools. It is on top of a basic salary of $ 1.2m (GBP 593,000), a possible $ 2.4m bonus and stock awards of up to $ 15m.
A Qwest spokeswoman said: "The purpose of this arrangement is to have our new chairman and CEO in Denver while accommodating his split situation as his daughter wraps up school in California."
Qwest´s decision to grant family use of its plane is fairly common among American companies. A study of 215 chief executives by director pay analysts Corporate Library has found that 54% were allowed personal use of corporate aircraft.
Among those enjoying private air travel last year were eBay´s chief executive Meg Whitman at a cost of $ 773,467 and Wrigley chewing gum boss William Wrigley who ran up a bill of $ 540,210. Top of the table was David Hanna of CompuCredit, a sub-prime credit card issuer, who enjoyed $ 1m of personal travel on a corporate plane.
The study´s author, Paul Hodgson, said companies usually cited security concerns to explain why corporate bosses could not travel on commercial airliners. He expressed scepticism, however, over Qwest´s arrangement: "It´s certainly a benefit to the chief executive, certainly a benefit to his wife and stepdaughter but I can´t really see any benefit from it to shareholders."
The question of personal travel on corporate jets featured in the recent trial of the former Telegraph owner Conrad Black, who used his Hollinger media empire´s plane to go on holiday to Bora Bora. He was acquitted of fraud over this trip, although convicted on other charges.
Stephen Hall, a New York-based executive pay consultant, said use of company planes could be justified if it removed clutter from executives´ lives and helped them to concentrate on the job.
"If everybody knows it´s going on and if the board of directors has looked at it and approved it, I´m not sure I have a tremendous problem with it," he said.