Shovels sharpened for Google's flight terminal

Anchored by Google's own air force, the biggest new terminal for private jets to be built in 30 years will begin construction at San Jose International in January.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt
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A rendering of the proposed private jet terminal at San Jose International that will host Google's planes. Signature

Plans to break ground on a massive, $82 million private jet terminal at Mineta San Jose International Airport that's expected to host Google's planes will get under way in January.

Signature Flight Support, a fixed-base operator that provides services such as plane fuel and aircraft maintenance and is building the terminal, has subleased much of the space to Blue City Holdings, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company that runs aircraft for Google's executives.

The terminal apparently will dedicate five of its seven wings to Google, which means that other companies will have some kind of limited access. The 29-acre lot will offer around 270,000 square feet of hangar space, making this the largest fixed-base operator location built in one go in the past 30 years.

Siganture's chief operating officer, Maria Sastre, told the Silicon Valley Business Journal that the project is expected to create 200 construction jobs and around $2.6 million in rent for San Jose.

Once completed, the project is expected to bring millions of dollars in rent and other fees to San Jose. However, Google is apparently still considering a long-term lease of Moffett Field, where its planes are currently housed and for which it pays the federal government $1.3 million annually as of 2007.

The planes and project have not been without controversy. Inside Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page squabbled over the kinds of beds their plane in the private terminal would have -- king-size or hammock.

But the company has struggled with where to keep its fleet. The Moffett Field choice as the current homebase has never been warmly welcomed, and the San Jose International construction project itself has run afoul of problems.

The airport's current fixed-base operator, Atlantic Aviation, has filed CEQA and zoning violations complaints against the project.