Bid not met for jet

State plans to extend the online auction

Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006

ANCHORAGE - Bidders in an online auction failed to meet the minimum bid for selling Alaska's state jet.

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As time ran out Thursday to bid on the jet, the biggest bidder was willing to pay only about $1.9 million for the 22-year-old Westwind II aircraft.

The state is extending the auction in hopes of getting its break-even price of about $2.5 million.

Meghan Stapleton, spokeswoman for Gov. Sarah Palin, said the state plans to extend the bidding by as many as 20 days, beginning Thursday night, in hopes of finding a bigger spender.

Earlier this month, Palin announced that she would put the jet up for sale on the online auction site eBay.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski pushed hard to acquire the jet.

He ordered the purchase of the 1984 Westwind II over the objection of minority Democratic legislators and many Alaskans. The jet became a high-profile campaign issue in the Republican primary, where Palin trounced the incumbent in August.

The cost of the jet in November 2005 was just under $2.7 million from Aircraft Marketing Ltd., a firm in Las Vegas.

Murkowski and members of his administration said the swifter aircraft was needed for responding to emergencies around the state.

When Palin announced the jet would be sold, she said buying it in the first place had been "impractical" and "unwise."

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