James Moore: Google chiefs, Nasa and a mix-up over cheap plane fuel


James Moore
Friday 13 December 2013 01:00

Outlook If you Google private planes, Nasa, Larry Page, Sergei Brin and Eric Schmidt you'll happen upon a rather embarrassing story.

It seems that the three moguls at the top of the world's biggest internet search company have been flying their private planes on the cheap by using Nasa's fuel.

Actually, that's not entirely fair. A company linked to the three leased space at a Nasa hanger. One of the planes, as part of the deal, was used by Nasa for scientific research, gratis. But thanks to a "misunderstanding" a fleet of private jets was powered by cheap fuel that the US Department of Defence supplies for Nasa's use, even if the planes were being used by the execs.

Red faces all round then, but don't worry. Nasa isn't short as a result of this. In fact the only possible loser here is the California taxpayer, who may have lost duty and other levies. Given that state's shaky finances its tax inspectors will probably want to make sure that they get back what they're owed from some of richer occupants of Silicon Valley, and fairly quickly too. They'll also want to be sure that Messrs Page, Schmidt and Brin are paying what they should to fly their Boeings and Gulfstreams in future. Still, all's well that ends well. Just don't expect Nasa to be featured on any of those Google doodles any time soon.

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