World’s second richest man sells his private jet to avoid being tracked on Twitter

Will other billionaires follow suit?
Ameya Paleja
Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault, billionaire and chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE

Getty Images 

Over the summer, Frenchman Bernard Arnault, the co-founder of luxury goods company, Louis Vuitton, was under fire on Twitter for the excessive use of his private jet. His solution to escape the criticism was to sell his private jet and rent one instead when needed, Bloomberg reported.

Billionaires like Arnault have used private jets in the past as well, but without being noticed by the public at large. However, with the use of automation, their information can not only be pulled up but also publicly shared over social media channels like Twitter.

Earlier this year, Interesting Engineering reported how 19-year-old Jack Sweeney, was able to track Elon Musk's jet and refused to stop sharing the information, even when offered $5,000. While Sweeney might be tracking Elon for fun, French Twitter accounts have a more serious tone and are much more critical of the flights undertaken.

How French Twitter shames its billionaires for flying

Twitter accounts like I Fly Bernard and Bernard's Airplane may seem to be targeting only Bernard Arnault, but they also take on other French elite who regularly take private flights. With tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, the accounts have managed to stir up a conversation about these flights in political circles too. Last summer, politicians were pondering over a complete ban or at least a special tax on using private jets.

Last month, in a tweet, the accounts revealed that businessman François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of another luxury goods company, Kering, flew from Venice to Paris and back again on the same day, wondering if he had forgotten his phone charger, Gizmodo reported.

Arnault's actions to accusations

The Twitter accounts had noticed the lack of activity on Bernard's plane starting in September and how it had not been registered in France since the beginning of the month. In a post, the account even asked whether Bernard had gone into hiding.

While LVMH, the holding group of the Louis Vuitton brand, did not bother to respond to the tweets, Bernard himself revealed on an LVMH-owned media outlet earlier this week that he has sold his private jet. When needed, he was simply renting out private jets so that nobody could see where he was going.

Bernard's son, Antoine, a member of the LVMH board as well as director of communications at the group, also told a French news channel last week that the plane was a "work tool" in a "hyper-competitive industry." Having a private plane gave its executives an edge in the race to clinch a new deal.

Speaking alongside his father at the LVMH media outlet, Antoine also added that the publicly available information about their plane gave competitors ideas, leads, and clues about what it was doing next, and therefore, it got rid of the plane.

Although this is a smart move from a business perspective, it does nothing to address the environmental concerns that the Twitter accounts were also trying to showcase. Private jet flights in September alone increased 203 tons of carbon emissions, a tweet said.

In August, the world's richest man, Elon Musk, took a nine-minute flight from San Jose to San Francisco, which is just five stops on a train.

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