Since 2007, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been gassing up their private jets at deep discounts thanks to the federal government. But according to The Wall Street Journal, the jet-fuel breaks are now over. Thanks to an agreement between NASA and an LLC, called H211 — owned by Page, Brin, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt — the executives were allowed to fuel up at an airfield located within the Ames Research Center. Ames is located about three miles away from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.
The jet fuel agreement expired on August 31st, and a Pentagon spokewoman tells the Journal that NASA opted not to renew it. NASA's decision to end the jet fuel discounts comes amid an audit by the agency's own inspector general and questions from the pentagon over whether or not H211 ever broke the agreement by purchasing fuel for non-government flights. H211, a company started specifically to manage the private planes of Google execs, purchased fuel at an average price of $3.19 per gallon, the Journal report says.
Kenneth Ambrose, an H211 executive, tells the Journal that the company also pays "full retail for hangar space that includes none of the ground support typically included at business aircraft hangars." Ambrose also added that the value of H211's payments to NASA added up to about $2 million a year.
According to documents posted to NASA's website, H211 didn't just buy gas and pay rent. The company has also performed scientific research flights and occasionally provided transportation services for the agency. The Journal says this piece of the agreement usually resulted H211 planes being used to measure greenhouse gases and ozone levels. While the fuel discounts are now over, H211's hangar lease at Ames' Moffet Airfield runs through 2014, according to an NBC Bay Area report.