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Google to splurge $82m for exclusive airport exec enclave

Teams with UK firm to erect a place to park its privates – jets, that is

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A plan by Google and British partner Signature Aviation to build a private airport terminal for the executive jet-set has received strong backing from local officials and looks likely to get approval.

The plan calls for an $82m extension to the San José International Airport with hangars, ramp space, and an executive 17,000 square-foot terminal for "accommodating the largest business jets," the city's director of aviation William Shelly wrote in a memo. In addition, the companies would build a 33,000 square-foot office and retail building, a 66,000 square-foot hangar, 18.5 acres of jet parking space, and a 300-car parking garage.

"We're pleased that the evaluation process for the development of Mineta San José International Airport's West Side is now complete, and the recommended outcome will prove to be incredibly prosperous for SJC, the City of San José, and Silicon Valley," he said in a statement.

The companies would be granted a 50-year lease and pay an estimated $2.6m in annual rent, along with an estimated $400,000 in fuel-flow fees and between $70,000 and $300,000 in new taxes. The proposed buildings would provide 376 direct and indirect jobs (although only 36 permanent ones), and the companies have promised that the project will be constructed to the highest environmental standards.

That said, environmental standards go out of the window when you're talking executive jets. Instead of cramming the maximum number of people on a flight, Google's executive jets – of which it has at least eight – carry very few people in great luxury, with the larger aircraft in the Chocolate Factory's fleet coming equipped with double beds in private cabins and a dedicated team of catering staff that are good enough to grace most posh restaurants.

Google management is very fond of their executive jets, but less fond of having to get to an airport to board them. The company reached an agreement with NASA to let them park their jets on the space agency's Moffett Field, in exchange for over $2m a year in funding and allowing the boffins to attach scientific devices to Google's fleet.

The council awarded the plan 991 out of a possible 1,000 rating points, making it a near-dead cert to go ahead. Two competing plans for the site's development were turned down by city authorities as unsuitable.

Signature Aviation is a subsidiary of Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly known as BAA,) which mismanages many British airports. Signature runs private airport terminals and facilities in more than 100 countries.

"We're proud to bring all of the resources that Signature can offer to further business and general aviation as well as our long-standing track record of good corporate citizenship to the San José and Silicon Valley communities," said its president Maria Sastre. ®

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