I have lots of ideas for when I am rich and famous, but they do not include an airport.
Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have different plans, however. The powerful duo are proposing to build a $82 million facility for private and corporate jets at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
According to a news release issued by the airport, Signature Flight Support will be awarded a 50-year lease on the airport’s West Side “to develop and operate a 29-acre, $82 million facility, in which they will manage, most notably, the personal aircraft of the principals at Google, among other clients.”
The issue of where to park your planes is certainly an important one. The combined fleet of Page, Brin, and executive chairman Eric Schmidt is estimated at around 8 jets, not including Google’s corporate fleet. The planes are currently housed at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, which is spitting distance from Google’s headquarters. However, last year Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley made a fuss claiming that this situation wasn’t fair and Google was getting the sweet end of the deal. As Boeings can’t just be locked up on the street or tucked away in a garage, an alternative location was needed.
What’s a billionaire to do?
In this case, the answer is to build your own airport, complete with an executive terminal, hangars, aircraft and car parking, office space, and retail shops. This deal represents a significant boost to the struggling San Jose airport. Mineta recently went through a $1.4 billion renovation and can use the additional revenue. Mayor Chuck Reed is quoted in a Mercury News article as saying he is “excited” because “each of those airplanes is a property tax generator.” Furthermore, the airport will bring in rent and other fees that amount to at least $3 million a year.
A committee comprised of city and airport officials and real estate and airline executives chose Signature Flight Support’s proposal for the project because of the British firm’s financial stability.It cites itself as the world’s largest operator of ‘fixed base’ airports and has private air facilities in 113 locations, including San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare and Boston Logan international airports. Director of aviation Bill Sherry said that the company is committed to “the private aviation needs of local high-tech companies, most notably the personal aircraft of the principals at Google.”
Google could be the first of many major clients to store their aircraft in San Jose. Executives at international businesses often travel extensively for work and don’t want to drive all the way to San Francisco International Airport, which is about 10 minutes further away from Mountain View than Mineta. Time is money, after all.
Really, it is a win-win situation. Google executives have a safe, friendly, personal place to store their airplanes, without having to interact with regular people or the federal government. For San Jose, the project creates hundreds of new jobs and bolsters its local budget.
Even if building an airport really does work out well for everyone, I am sticking with my initial dreams for my wealthy and powerful future. Unicorn farming.