By JAMES COVERT
JCPenney’s cash has been disappearing into thin air — literally.
CEO Ron Johnson burned through more than $344,000 of the struggling retailer’s money last year on the company jets — even as the rest of his compensation plummeted along with Penney’s finances, the company revealed yesterday.
As first reported by The Post, Johnson has insisted on using a private jet each week to commute to Penney’s Texas headquarters from his home in Palo Alto, Calif. — a perk extended to numerous other top Penney execs who commute from home in New York and California.
Despite the cushy perk, Johnson’s overall pay package crashed and burned in 2012, plunging 97 percent to $1.9 million from $53 million a year earlier, a reflection of the former Apple exec’s flopped strategy to transform Penney’s business.
Johnson’s marketing disaster has left the company’s finances in tatters.
Indeed, Johnson failed to win a cash bonus of up to $1,875,000 because the incentive had been linked to Penney’s target of $1.1 billion in operating profit.
Johnson missed that target, to put it mildly: Penney instead reported a 2012 operating loss of more than $1 billion as Johnson’s move to eliminate coupons and discounts sent shoppers fleeing in droves.
Sales in the year fell 25 percent.
Apart from his base salary of $1.5 million and his aircraft-based compensation, Johnson was given nearly $30,000 for home-security systems and $3,235 for information-technology services.
While lavish by the standards of most Penney employees, Johnson’s 2012 pay package is peanuts next to the $52.7 million stock award he landed when he took the helm of the company in late 2011.
In 2012, Johnson and other top execs were deprived of performance-based stock awards, options and cash bonuses because of the company’s dismal performance, according to an annual proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which details compensation for top execs and directors.
Chief Operating Officer Mike Kramer, who had reaped a $33.4 million bonanza when he signed on in 2011, saw his total compensation drop to slightly more than $1 million last year.
Compensation for Chief Talent Officer Dan Walker — a former Apple exec who spent lavishly last year to lure other execs to Penney from the iPad maker — slid to $731,000 from more than $20 million a year earlier.
Former president Michael Francis, however, was paid a total of $4.7 million despite being fired after just eight months on the job, according to securities filings.
A year earlier, Francis claimed an eye-popping $44.7 million, including a $12 million cash bonus and stock awards worth $32.1 million.
Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah, who joined the company last year, earned more than $5.5 million in 2012.