The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Immelt had an empty business jet follow his corporate plane on several trips around the world. That version exaggerates Immelt's travel practices, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC.
These people said it was not a regular practice to fly, or even keep on standby, multiple planes at the same time. The sources said a second plane was kept on standby on the ground in certain locations while Immelt was visiting for security purposes or in case his GE-owned plane had mechanical issues. For example, this was done on some parts of a multistop trip in Africa and another trip that included Mexico.
There was a time when GE used a chase plane — a second, empty plane that would follow along — but that practice was ended in 2014, sources said. At that time, Immelt changed the policy to use locally sourced planes. Those people familiar with the matter emphasized that this was done especially for added security after 9/11. Business critical purposes, sources said, included time-sensitive meetings with leaders of countries.