'Google Jet' parked in Juneau

Google founders made waves with lavish plane remodel in '05

Posted: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The "Google Jet" has added Juneau to the list of airports it has visited while jet-setting across the globe.

David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire
David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire

Two large Boeing airplanes landed in Juneau on July 4 and are generating attention because they are visibly larger than the 737 jets Alaska Airlines flies into the municipal airport.

"Over the years, we've had various large aircraft that have come in, so it's not the largest we've ever had here," airport spokeswoman Patty de LaBruere said.

The owners of the planes could not be confirmed on Monday due to airport policy, de LaBruere said.

"I can tell you that they are a private, or corporate, 757 and 767, but I don't have any more information on it," she said.

A search of the tail numbers with the Federal Aviation Administration registry lists the owner of the 767 as Blue City Holdings, LLC, in Oklahoma City. The company and a plane with the same tail number have been linked to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page by several media outlets.

The plane generated a fair amount of chatter on the Internet for its opulent renovation in 2005 that resulted in multiple lawsuits. The airplane was originally designed to carry about 180 passengers when it flew in the Qantas Airways fleet but went through a multi-million dollar renovation that was said to include lavish staterooms and a large sitting and dining area, according to the Wall Street Journal. There had apparently also been a dispute between Brin and Page about whether to outfit the plane with hammocks or California king size beds, according to the report.

Some celebrities have been rumored to be in Juneau in recent days, but de LaBruere couldn't confirm if the planes were related.

"I don't know," she said. "I figure if they're coming up here for vacation it's cause they want to get away too. I don't blame them."

Page, who presently serves on Google's board of directors and as president of products, said in an interview several years ago that the plane would be used for personal travel for "large numbers of people to places such as Africa," according to the newspaper.

The airplane has been called the "Google Jet" by some, though the corporation doesn't officially own it.

The jet also stirred some mild controversy on the Web after The New York Times reported that Page and Brin had been granted the right for $1.3 million to park their planes at an airfield run by NASA near Google's headquarters in San Francisco. Moffett Field is usually closed to private planes.

That comes nowhere near the cost for using Juneau International Airport. Along with landing fees, the planes are being charged $200 a day for parking fees, de LaBruere said.

A lot of secrecy has surrounded the Google Jet since its renovation in 2005, although a number of aviation Web sites that monitor the tail numbers of planes have tracked it across the globe. The site www.airliners.net has pictures of the plane in France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, China and Hawaii.

The Boeing 757 parked at the airport is listed in the FAA registry as being owned by a Bank of Utah trustee.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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