Private jets are already arriving in Sun Valley, Idaho ahead of the “summer camp for billionaires.”
The nearby airport began reporting delays from inbound traffic on Tuesday.
Big names like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg were invited to attend the event.
Private jets have already begun piling up outside of small town Sun Valley, Idaho as some of the world’s most powerful people head to Allen & Co’s annual conference — also known as “summer camp for billionaires.”
Nearby Friedman Memorial Airport has already begun experiencing delays from the traffic ahead of the event, which is set to kick off in full on Wednesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the airport was experiencing inbound flight delays averaging about 1 hour and 55 minutes, according to data from flight-tracking website FlightAware. Though, flights heading out from the airport do not appear to be impacted.
A spokesperson for the airport did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication and the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment as the airport is not FAA-managed.
Since Tuesday morning, over 40 private jets have flown through the nearby Friedman Memorial Airport ahead of the conference, with at least another 100 scheduled to arrive throughout the day, according to FlightAware. Some planes associated with companies like Nike have already landed in Sun Valley. Disney CEO Bob Iger was also pictured arriving at the event on Tuesday.
Last year over 300 flights passed through, according to The New York Times. For reference, on a typical day the airport accommodates about 40 planes. In 2021, the airport was so swamped with private jets that the FAA had to delay incoming flights until traffic dropped.
A big chunk of the incoming flights are operated by private charter company NetJets, which is the world’s biggest by fleet size and operates everything from the smaller Embraer Phenoms and midsized Cessna Citations to the giant $75 million Bombardier Global 7500.
It is common for deep-pocket flyers to use private operators like NetJets because it is harder to track their location. Apple CEO Tim Cook — who is on the guest list for Sun Valley 2023 — has been only flying on charters instead of the company’s corporate planes since 2017.
Apple previously said the policy was implemented “in the interests of security and efficiency based on our global profile and the highly visible nature of Mr. Cook’s role as CEO.”
Louis Vuitton CEO and the world’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, is also avoiding the public eye after selling his private jet in October due to security concerns. It is not confirmed if the executive is attending this year’s summit.
Chris Pomeroy, the director of Friedman Memorial Airport, told The New York Times last year that he’s spent months preparing for the conference in Sun Valley, Idaho — a town with a population of 1,800. If he’s not careful, the event can cause major backups at the airport.
Pomeroy said there have been times when jets have been forced to circle over the airport or wait on the tarmac for over an hour, just waiting for the runway to open back up.
Over the years, the event has been the backdrop for several major business deals, including Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post and Disney’s $19 billion ABC acquisition. At the summit, the executives canoodle between tennis matches, golf outings, whitewater rafting, and sessions on anything from creativity to climate change.
This year the guest list for the event includes several major players. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are expected to attend the event, according to Bloomberg. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates are also included on the guest list, Variety reported.
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