Gates Buys the Indefensible

Rohit Khare (
Mon, 27 Oct 1997 17:05:13 -0800

[jes catchin' up with his pal, the Sage of Omaha, I suppose. I, too, am a little surprised he didn't do this long ago, or at least charter a Jetshare. Again, it makes that $1m unlimited lifetime you + companion first-class United pass a real bargain... Also, the 737-800x and Airbus 319 derived corporate jets are not as obscene as they seem, since they have high resale values as commercial jets. Rohit]


          October 27, 1997

          New Jet Eases Travel Hassles for Bill Gates


          [C] onspicuous consumption has never come easy to Bill
              Gates, the chairman and chief executive of Microsoft
          Corp. But these days the mantle of world's richest man
          seems to be resting easier on his shoulders. Earlier
          this month, Gates broke down and bought himself a $21
          million private jet.

          For years, even as his wealth ballooned to its current
          level near $40 billion, Gates was known for flying
          coach. His preference on long trips was to throw a
          blanket over his head and sleep.

          Microsoft employees are still restricted from flying
          first class and can upgrade to business class only on
          international flights. That is apparently why Gates, who
          will turn 42 on Tuesday, bought the plane himself,
          rather than have Microsoft pay for it.
          -------------------------- "He is flying so much it
          Gates's jet is a           really does make sense, but
          Challenger 604, a          he doesn't think the company
          twin-engine plane that     should be paying for it,"
          can fly nearly 5,000       said Pam Edstrom, a
          miles, seats nine or 10    spokeswoman.
          passengers and has the
          widest cabin in its        Not that anyone would fault
          class.                     Microsoft for buying the boss
          -------------------------- a plane. After being
                                     denounced as corporate frills
          in the early 1990s, when many large companies were
          laying off thousands of workers, corporate jets are

          Manufacturers have a long backlog of orders, and last
          year both Boeing and Airbus Industrie announced plans to
          convert their smallest commercial jets into business
          jets. Boeing's model is a modified 737 and costs $40
          million. The company already has orders for 25 of the

          The jet Gates bought is a Challenger 604, which is made
          by Bombardier Inc. of Canada. The twin-engine plane can
          fly nearly 5,000 miles, seats nine or 10 passengers and
          has the widest cabin in its class.

          In his role as Microsoft's chief standard-bearer and
          mascot, Gates can certainly use it. In the last month
          alone, he was in San Francisco, Florida, Arizona,
          England, Switzerland, Germany and Russia.

          Edstrom said that Gates planned to use the plane
          personally and for business. "It has just become too
          difficult to map his schedule to the commercial airline
          schedule," she said, almost apologetically, adding that
          Gates will continue to fly commercial "when it makes