Google founders' jet perk runs out of gas

Larry Page and Sergey Brin have lost a special deal for discounted Pentagon fuel for their private fleet.

By Kim Peterson Sep 16, 2013 7:09AM
Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google Inc. (© Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Google's (GOOG) founders enjoy a luxury perk few other Silicon Valley executives get: primo jet parking.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin have for years been able to park their private jets at Moffett Federal Airfield, a former U.S. Navy base and the home of NASA's Ames Research Center. It's just three miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

That's a perfect spot to stash your jets when you need to make a quick getaway to Tahiti, Hawaii and Nantucket, Mass. -- and records show the planes have in fact flown there frequently, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Not only did Google's founders, along with chairman Eric Schmidt, get to park their fleet of seven jets and two helicopters at the field, but they also got to use sharply discounted jet fuel purchased from the Pentagon, The Journal reported.

How cheap? Google's jet fuel cost an average of $3.19 per gallon since 2009, the publication said. The fleet has used 2.3 million gallons over that time. Corporate jets in general paid an average of $4.35 per gallon in that same period.

How did the Google execs score this kind of deal? First, they established a private company, which paid $1.3 million a year in annual rent and cost recovery. And Google is separately leasing land on Moffett for a future office campus, The Journal reported. The Google executives also bought NASA a small jet to measure greenhouse gases and ozone.

In other words, they threw a whole bunch of money at NASA. The agency phrases it a bit more delicately: "NASA is always looking for innovative, public-private partnerships to help advance our mission and provide benefit to the American taxpayer," a spokeswoman told The Journal.

While the parking arrangement has left other Silicon Valley execs grumbling, it's the aircraft fuel that has recently become an issue. The Pentagon and NASA have been discussing whether the Google founders "exceeded contract terms" by using fuel for nongovernment flights. And so the discounted fuel arrangement was not renewed when it ended Aug. 31.

The reaction to The Journal piece has been less than kind. "This is crony capitalism folks," writes the State of Globe blog. "How many of these cozy relationships exist out there between business and government?"

Twitter users were also amazed at the relationship. "Google pays little tax but executives spend much time flying to Pacific islands using cheap govt fuel," wrote one. "Why was Google given subsidized fuel from the Pentagon for their private jet fleet in the first place?" asked another.

More on moneyNOW

Sep 16, 2013 2:30PM
Sep 16, 2013 4:28PM

Tax the rich, don't subsidize them.  These asses should not get one cent in subsidies.

Sep 16, 2013 11:45AM
If they are paying (directly or indirectly) to use Moffet Field and have access to discounted Jet fuel there seems to be no issue. Why not let NASA rent out unused space to make extra money. The other closest Airport for them to use would be San Jose International airport which depending on the time of day would only add 10-20 min to their travel time to Google Headquarters. I do have an issue though with Google using "creative accounting" to get around paying US taxes. Finally remember that Google is first and foremost an advertising company and that everything you type into Google is stored and used to create user profiles to sell to advertisers or data mining companies
Sep 16, 2013 5:20PM

Apparently a Wal-Mart mentality is shared by certain of the extremely rich also. But in the case of the wealthy, it's not out of necessity. It's just an expression of their character.

Google and Apple most likely have more money than does the Federal Gov't.  The Feds want their fair share starting TODAY!! 
Sep 16, 2013 7:15AM
7 jets and 2 helicopters?  Wonder how many people are employed just servicing and flying that fleet?
Sep 16, 2013 7:17PM

John Doe "buyfish" Why don't you wake up. You went from the current government "Obama's in charge" if you didn't know to blaming the republicans for renting and giving perks to these dudes. Don't you know the rich you speak of were some of Obama's biggest cash and otherwise supporters. Google also built his campaign computer programs that enabled the democrats to send all of us SPAM about Obama. Why don't you get your facts right or just go away. All you and Obama lovers can do is blame someone else for your own problems.

Sep 16, 2013 4:36PM

Google pays 1.3 million in rent for 8 aircraft.Google gave NASA a JET.Somehow getting a discount on jet fuel wont be enough to out weigh the expenses of google in buying NASA a Jet.

Perhaps Mr Adelson the largest contributor to the GOP needs to buy the Senators and Congressman a Casino in Washington,DC. This could save the People Billions in underhanded corporate contract awards that are NO BID=HALBURTON

IF OUR Politicians are at the casino they wont be stealing from social security or Peter to pay paul.

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