Billionaires do seem to love the freedom of the skies, especially when they’re not crammed in with all the riff raff on any public flight. Though at the same time, the uber rich don’t enjoy other people criticizing them for routinely taking short jaunts on private jets while producing hundreds of tons of CO2 in the process.
Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury brand LVMH—known for expensive labels like Louis Vuitton—is the world’s second-richest man according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. He currently clocks in at a net worth of $133 billion, beating out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ paltry $130 billion. He’s also been harangued on Twitter for his consistent use of private jets. French accounts that use planes’ transponder signals and publicly accessible information have tracked Arnault’s and other rich folks’ use of private jets to reveal just how much wasteful flying time is used by the world’s wealthiest.
In September, the Twitter account laviodebernard (Bernard’s Plane) wrote that Arnault’s plane had been de-registered in France. The account wrote “The LVMH private jet has not been registered in France since September 1, 2022. Still no word from Bernard Arnault or LVMH on the subject of private jets. So Bernard, are we hiding?”
Apparently, that’s just what Arnault has been doing. On the LVMH-owned podcast released Monday, Arnault admitted that the LVMH group “had a plane, and we sold it.” He added: “The result now is that no one can see where I go because I rent planes when I use private planes.”
LVMH did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. The topic of taxing the country’s richest for using private jets has been seen favorably by French lawmakers and some officials like environmental minister Christophe Bechu.
Antoine Arnault, the second scion of the world’s second richest man, a LVMH board member and director of communications for Louis Vuitton, also said during the podcast that other people knowing where their company jet is could give competitors an edge. He also told French news channel 5’s à Vous last week “This plane is a work tool.” As translated by Bloomberg, the younger Arnault added that the company sold the plane over the summer.
Of course, the issue doesn’t just have to do with Arnault alone. Another one of these critical Twitter accounts I Fly Bernard recently pointed out that millionaires’ private planes coming from France have emitted 203 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere through over 48 hours of flights in September alone. On Sept. 18 the account pointed out that the French businessman and CEO of Kering François-Henri Pinault, flew from Venice to Paris, then back to Venice all in one day, cheekily writing “maybe a forgotten phone charger at the hotel?”
The world richest man, Elon Musk, also has a penchant for using his private plane quite an obscene amount. Earlier this year, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO came under fire when transponder signals showed his $70 million private Gulfstream jet flew just nine minutes from San Jose to San Francisco. That flight likely took place in May.
The billionaire reportedly proposed to buy one of the accounts tracking his jet, called @ElonJet. Musk asked Jack Sweeney, the young man who runs the bot-tracking Twitter account, to take down the account calling it a “security risk.” He even offered to buy the account for a measly $5,000, according to Twitter DMs seen by Protocol. Sweeney asked Musk to add “an extra ‘0’” to that number, but to this day, the tracking account remains.