The number of tech moguls chartering private jets to Sun Valley next week has become 'chaotic'

  • Allen & Co’s exclusive business conference for tech, finance and media moguls is about to kick off next week in Sun Valley, Idaho.
  • It’s a badge of honour just to be invited.
  • For those that made the grade and scored an invite, hobnobbing at the conference means one pretty specific perk: flying private.
  • There are so many private jets, one operator described the scene as “chaotic.”

The mogul event of the season will take place next week as the rich and powerful in the tech, media and finance worlds descend on Sun Valley, Idaho, for the Allen & Co.’s secretive annual conference.

This year’s attendee list includes Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, GM’s Mary Barra, Slack’s Stewart Butterfield, Apple’s Tim Cook, Walt Disney’s Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch and his sons, to name a few according to Vanity Fair. Both Shari Redstone and Leslie Moonves are invited, which will be interesting as the two are still locked in battle for control for CBS. Most controversial, perhaps, is that disgraced broadcast journalist Charlie Rose has scored an invitation, reports Bloomberg.

Jet, aeroplane, Sun Valley, IdahoYouTube/Octaviation100A jet at Friedman Memorial Airport in Sun Valley

Attendance is by invitation only so it is considered a badge of honour just to be asked.

And in order to impress your fellow elite moguls, one simply doesn’t travel by commercial airline.

Private jets are considered the ultimate symbol of success in tech these days, as essential to the image as a devil-may-care pair of jeans, a $US400 pair of sneakers and hoodie or a vest (the standard Allen & Co mogul uniform).

And so, even though there are plenty of daily flights from, say, San Francisco to Sun Valley, bookings for private charters for the show are through the roof this year, one of them tells Business Insider.

The fixed-based operator in Sun Valley, Atlantic Aviation, expects 350 to 465 private jets this year, private-jet charter company XOJET tells Business Insider. An FBO is responsible for things like fuelling aeroplanes. Parking of private jets is always a problem for this conference because the area is set up for about 100 of them, XOJET tells us.

Those that don’t have their own jets have chartered.

“We are seeing a large increase in volume as compared to previous years; currently up over 30% on inbound flights and over 60% on outbound flights and we expect this number to grow as we tend to see last-minute bookings,” Gregg Slow, chief client officer of XOJET, told Business Insider.

The influx of everyone’s jet can be “chaotic,” Slow says, telling us: “We will continue to have members of our team on the ground to assist our clients and crews as it can get a bit chaotic with multiple aircraft arriving and departing at the same time.”

Drew Houston Sun ValleyGetty / Drew AngererDrew Houston in Sun Valley in 2017.

Residents in Sun Valley say they always know when the secretive conference is going on because private jets are double-parked at Friedman Memorial Airport, reports Mark Dee of the Idaho Mountain Express local newspaper.

The only big name attendee that likely won’t be flying his own plane is Warren Buffett.

Warren famously owns his own plane named “the Indefensible” because the notoriously frugal Buffett used to criticise corporations for buying private planes for their execs’ use. He also owns NetJets, which lets people share ownership of planes. But, bucking the Allen & Co trend, he often likes to drive his station wagon to the event, reports Variety.

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