NASA ends Google’s discounted Pentagon jet fuel purchases

Sep 13, 2013
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Google founders Larry page and Sergey Brin operate an impressive fleet of private jets that the search giant uses for various reasons. Many of the company's aircraft are based at a government airfield in California where they are able to buy jet fuel from the Pentagon at a significant discount. Reports indicate that following talks between the Pentagon and NASA this year, Google's ability to purchase discounted jet fuel has been ended.

The Google founders and the US government had an agreement in place allowing Google to purchase discounted jet fuel since 2007. That agreement was ended on August 31 after NASA, the sponsor of the arrangement decided not to renew it. The move came after discussions between the Pentagon and NASA over whether Page and Brin had used the discounted jet fuel on flights having nothing to do with government operations.

Pentagon official Senator Charles Grassley says that he's seeking an audit of the arrangement to determine whether executives at some businesses are getting special arrangements for fuel that aren't offered to other businesses. Back in 2007, NASA signed a deal with a private company (H211) representing aircraft owned by the Google founders to base aircraft out of Moffett Federal airfield.

That airfield was a former U.S. Navy base and is currently the location of NASA's Ames Research Center. The airport is physically the most convenient to the Google Mountain View California headquarters at only 3 miles away. The deal also saw H211, the company representing Google's aircraft, agree to pay $1.3 million in rent annually for storing aircraft there and lease some space in the area for a future office campus. The Google executives reportedly purchased an aircraft called an Alpha jet, which is a small trainer NASA used to measure atmospheric greenhouse gases and ozone.

H211 executive Kenneth Ambrose said that the company was purchasing "the only fuel available at Moffett" he also said that the company pays "full retail for hangar space that includes none of the ground support typically included at business aircraft hangars." Executive also said that NASA earns $2 million a year from the company's presence at Moffett. H211 has reportedly purchased 2.3 million gallons of jet fuel at the base since early 2009 at a price of about $3.19 per gallon. The approximate average price of jet fuel around the country is $4.35 per gallon.

SOURCE: WSJ


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