Company Has Less Than 20 Flights On New G550
For whatever reason -- be it the economy, White House pressure,
or bickering shareholders -- selling off corporate jets is all the
rage right now. Seattle-based coffee conglomerate Starbucks Corp.
is the latest company to forgo one of its company aircraft
There's a quirk, however: the company took delivery of the $45
million Gulfstream G550 just last month.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reports the aircraft, N211HS,
is now being offered by Avpro Inc. The aircraft has less than 40
hours total time, with fewer than 15 cycles since Starbucks
accepted the plane in December 2008... about the same time the
company announced it planned to close more of its stores, and would
reconsider how much it would contribute to employee 401(k)
The timing of the delivery (around four years after Starbucks
ordered the plane, incidentally) couldn't have come at a worst time
for the coffee giant.
Since November, corporate aircraft have drawn fire from
lawmakers -- and, increasingly, the general public -- after the
CEOs of the Detroit Three automakers flew to Washington in their
individual corporate jets, to beg for federal bailout money.
Regardless of the logical reasons for that decision, it was still a
PR-blunder arguably rivalling New Coke.
So far, Starbucks hasn't begged for a taxpayer-funded bailout...
and the company was also trying to sell an older, less-efficient
Gulfstream G-V to offset some of the purchase cost. Nevertheless,
the combination of a hostile economic environment, and the
company's purportedly "green" reputation, was apparently enough to
kill the Frapjet.
The announcement comes two days after Citibank similarly
said it would cancel its contract for a new Dassault Falcon
For what it's worth, Starbucks' decision probably means a pretty
good deal for the G550's next owner. After all... in addition to
the full Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite complete with
synthetic vision, they'll be able to enjoy a tasteful interior
"completed in neutral tones of gray leather and gray cashmere," and
sporting high-gloss "Australian Walnut woodwork... enhanced with
satin nickel plating," for what should be a fairly significant
discount over new, given the slumping bizjet market.
Still, we can't help but recall a comment made by conservative
commentator Rush Limbaugh earlier this month, when news first
surfaced of Starbucks' new plane. Commenting on the resulting
public outcry, Limbaugh pointed out that, truly, "[i]t's none of
Yeah, so much for that sentiment for awhile...