Transport Airports

Google’s own $82 million airport may soon be a reality

Feb 09, 2013 3:46 am

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This is manna from heaven for tech blogs, if they want to milk this.

— Rafat Ali

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If all goes according to plan, it won’t be long before Google lands its winged fleet at Mineta San Jose International Airport at a brand new general aviation facility that will bring in millions of dollars.

In a memo released Thursday, San Jose airport officials urged the city to approve a deal with Signature Aviation and Blue City Holdings — the company representing the Google fleet — that would result in a privately funded 29-acre, $82 million facility on land that was formerly a parking lot on the west side of the airfield.

“It’s a huge deal for the airport,” said Aviation Director Bill Sherry Thursday night of the proposal that must still be signed off by the San Jose City Council this spring.

“We’ve been dealing for years (at the airport) with the economic downturn and layoffs and increased debt, and now suddently things are starting to turn around for us,” Sherry said. “This is the right move.”

“It certainly makes sense,” said Mineta spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes. “It’s (Google) a household high-tech name, and San Jose is an ideal Silicon Valley location.”

 

 

 

 

 

The multi-million-dollar facility would include an executive terminal, hangars and ramp space for the largest business jets including Boeing 737 and 767 models, and aircraft servicing facilities.

It would serve as home to other corporate and private clients as well as Google, said Sherry, adding that it would be a great boon to the airport as a privately funded entity that would bring in revenue for Mineta.

According to the memo, that would include $2.6 million annually in rent and at least $400,000 in fuel-related revenues. The memo states that up to 200 construction jobs would be created as well as 36 permanent airport jobs.

The proposed lease with Signature/Blue City Holdings would last 50 years, said Sherry, who noted that typical airport leases tend to range between 20 and 30 years.

“But normal airport leases don’t amount to $82 million in development,” he said.

Google aircraft are currently housed at Moffett Federal Airfield, and company executives offered to pay for the restoration of NASA/Ames’ historic Hangar One in exchange for using two-thirds of the facility’s space for private jets. But it’s unclear what the latest development means for Google’s dealings with NASA/Ames.

Barnes said that the airport recognized an increased demand for general aviation facilities and notified potential tenants of the space that became available after the airport remodel in 2010, when parking facilities were relocated.

“We have the space to grow,” she said. Three offers were made; those from two other aviation companies did not meet requirements, according to the memo.

Sherry said he hopes that NASA/Ames doesn’t fight the proposed move by Bluy City Holdings to San Jose’s airport.

“Every airport has its purpose — from very small general aviation airports to larger commercial airports,” explained the veteran aviation director. Moffett Federal Airfield is a military airport, he said, and “commercial enterprises are not intended for or supposed to be federal facilities. NASA/Ames is a little bit of a military surplus, it’s kind of unique.”

Sherry said Google had approached San Jose airport officials back in 2005 seeking to put an airplane facility on site. But Sherry said the airport didn’t have the room at the time.

Plans to develop the airports west side have been in the works for a few years, and when the airport put out a bid recently for a fixed-base operator to locate on the site, “we got what I consider to be one of the most robust responses we could have gotten from Signature Aviation,” which he called the world’s largest fixed-base operations company.

The proposal will go before the city council’s Airport Competitiveness Committee later this month, Shery said, and hopefully to the full city council for a vote in April. Construction would take 18 months to two years.

Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140. ___

(c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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