Parking spaces are at a premium for executives toiling in Silicon Valley in California – for their private jets.
Most have to struggle through massed traffic to the international airports at San Francisco or San Jose for their ride home – but not so the high-flying founders of the web-search leviathan, Google.
The men, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have landed a privileged parking deal for their Boeing 767 that makes all other executive perks look pedestrian. Since last month, the Google Twins, as they are sometimes known, have been allowed exclusive use of a nearby private airstrip owned by Nasa, no less.
Both sides are smiling. Nasa is reportedly charging Google $1.3m (£640,000) a year for use of the facility, called Moffett Field. Under the agreement, signed on 1 August, Nasa also gets occasionally to place instruments and researchers on Google planes – the Boeing and two smaller ones.
For the billionaire founders, who indulged themselves with the purchase of the wide-bodied plane, once part of the Qantas fleet, two years ago, it is all about convenience (and maybe local bragging rights also). Moffett Field is barely seven minutes by car from their offices. Traffic en route will therefore barely be an issue.
Nasa confirms that this is the first time it has agreed private aviation at one of its airports, and local residents, unsurprisingly, are less than delighted. They worry more deals may follow, threatening the local environment with noise pollution.
"The Google flights represent the possibility that the camel's nose is under the tent," Lenny Seigel, leader of a local group, told The New York Times.
Nasa officials are unapologetic. "It was an opportunity for us to defray some of the fixed costs we have to maintain the airfield as well as to have flights of opportunity for our science missions," Steven Zornetzer, a Nasa official, said. "It seemed like a win-win situation." Indeed, the agency used a Google Gulfstream jet to monitor an unusually important meteor shower on 31 August.
The Google 767 has been completely refurbished with bedrooms for each of the founders and seats only fifty passengers at its rear.Reuse content