Book 2 Chapter 52
We were up early eating the buffet breakfast, the wheels left the ground at 0700 for the seven hour flight to Rabat, Morocco. We were refueling there for the flight across the Atlantic.
Time was spent with Andy, Axle, and Ellison Burr discussing things that needed to be done. We were discussed out after a couple hours. I turned the swivel seat, reclined and closed my eyes. Jet lag was starting to take effect on me.
At 1400 we were on the ground at the general aviation terminal getting fuel and having the waste tank pumped out. While that was going on the rest of us were in the shops in the general terminal. We could go there and buy small items without going through customs as long as we returned back to the plane.
I was just taking my bags from the cashier when my satellite phone started ringing.
“Hello, BJ where are you?” it was Lorrie.
“Morocco – refueling,” I replied, “Why do you ask?”
“Can you meet us in Copenhagen at the Kastrup Airport?” Lorrie asked.
“Sure. What’s up?” I asked.
“Gregory set it up so that we can look at the 737 BBJ tomorrow – the 2013 with the low hours. The 2016 that ran off the runway has been returned to service from Boeing’s repair facility; both are there,” Lorrie said.
“Have you left Morton yet?” I asked.
“Yes we have, flight track says we are two thousand miles from London,” Lorrie said.
“Who is the ‘we’?” I asked.
“Jenny, Ching Lee, JJ, RJ, Sara, Takeo, two more pilots in case we bought it, Jeanna, Lisa and me.”
“I hope you remembered to bring all the passports, even for Takeo and Sara,” I said.
“Yes I have them all,” Lorrie responded.
“How about motel rooms?” I asked.
“No, not yet,” Lorrie replied.
“I will get Marcy to call as soon as we get on the plane. We should get there an hour or more before you. I will let you know. How are you making out with JJ and RJ since this is their first flight?” I asked.
“They have been good, looking at everything, plus they have a mouth full of gum to help with their ears. They have been looking through the door into the cockpit watching the pilots and all the gauges. So far so good,” Lorrie said.
In the plane I told the pilots of the destination change. I did not how long it would take get the flight plans changed. Then I put Marcy on the trail of finding ten rooms on the same floor close together.
“Jeanna is with them,” I said to Marcy.
“Oh my, she is not fond of flying over the ocean. She must have really been bored at home,” Marcy replied.
While Vicky and Marcy were sorting out the motel rooms, I called the US embassy on MTAC to see if they had any trusted travel connections to get us to the motel.
Copenhagen embassy security was not supplied by JBG. It was considered one of the top embassy assignments in what was known as the playground of Europe, along with others that were considered prime assignments. Those were reserved for the President’s most favored donor or political confidants getting the Ambassador positions.
The same was true for the security jobs. They were reserved for special connected people in the services and enforcement agencies. I had never talked with the Copenhagen embassy before – I had not needed to.
When Marcy was done we had ten rooms at the Marriott on the same floor, all with two beds.
Less than a half hour later I was paged to connect to MTAC.
When it went live I was looking the President, Troy and Dick James, “What are you doing in Copenhagen? That is a long way from South Africa. I just got a call from Ambassador Hammond that you were inbound. He wants to know if he should be concerned,” Dick said.
“I have been quiet for a couple days, time to piss off a few more people, maybe kill another one or two. I was a little rusty the other day – damn near got me hurt, I need more practice,” I said as I watched the expressions change.
“You can breathe easy. This is simply a business trip a follow up on the Paris air show,” I then said.
“The air show was business and look what happened there – that is what worries us,” Troy said.
“I don’t expect any villains that need killing to be in Copenhagen,” I replied.
“Well let’s hope you are right and none find you that do,” the President said.
Three hours later we were on final approach when we heard N896D contact air traffic control for vectoring, they were one hundred and fifty miles out. We would still be in customs when they landed. A shuttle carried us from the general aviation terminal to the main terminal to go through customs.
When we landed Marcy called the Marriott to send their shuttle vans. The two vans would have two trips to get everyone to the motel. Customs was slow, very slow. I soon figured out that it was by design.
When we finished two officials from the Danish government were waiting at the end of aisle.
“Ambassador Jones, I’m Allyn Jensen – assistant minister of foreign affairs – and this is Finnbar Hansen from the Danish Defense Intelligence Service. May we have a word with you? In private,” Allyn said.
“Normally when someone of your stature and position in government visits our country we get several days notice to either deny the visit – or to prepare an appropriate reception,” Allyn said.
“I am not here in an official capacity so no reception is called for. My travel plans were changed mid-flight to meet my family here for business purposes. I plan on leaving after the business transactions are completed,“ I said.
About that time RJ and JJ came running though an aisle and wrapped their arms around my legs. I squatted to give then hugs and kisses.
“I missed you two so much,” I said to them.
“We will pass that on to our superiors. Enjoy your stay,” Allyn said as they turned and left.
I wondered if the EU had put a flag on my travel since France. If they did, there was little I could do about it. As soon as my hands were free I would text the EIT desk to research that thought.
We had a late dinner with the complete family with the addition of Jeanna and Lisa. JJ an RJ never stopped talking. They filled us in on everything they had done in the last couple of days, mixed in with questions of why.
Jenny and I with JJ and RJ took one room, Vicky with Sara took another and Ching Lee and Marcy with Takeo took another. Jeanna and Lisa were in another. The rest of the pilots and crew were in the last six rooms. They had to pick their own snoring partner.
Jenny, the boys and I were awake early at 0600 and decided to go to the gym before we met the others for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
When we went through the lobby to the gym, I noticed two men in suits who looked out of place. If we had been in Washington they would have stood out as cops. I was willing to bet these were cops here as well.
We worked out in the gym until 0800 and then headed back to the room to change and meet everyone else for breakfast.
The same two men were still sitting but had changed seating so they could watch the doors to the gym. They were still seated watching the elevator doors close behind us.
We had finished breakfast and were drinking the awful stuff they called coffee when Gregory Simms and another man came into the restaurant. The other man was introduced as Howard Freeland from Boeing Commercial Financial Services.
After introductions the courtesy vans carried us out to the planes. There were at least six people waiting by the plane, all of them with a Boeing corporate jacket and pin. This was a hard sell. I wondered what the Boeing interest was in a plane they had already sold three years ago to an obviously very wealthy individual.
The first one was the 2016 model. Jack started going through logbooks and various documentation. The pilots began looking over the exterior of the planes.
“I want to know if anything is amiss, I want to know about it even if it was a dab of grease or an application of silicone in excess or in the wrong spot. Make this the most thorough walk around inspection you have ever done,” I told them before I followed the girls and salesman into the plane.
We were given little disposal booties at the base of the stairs to keep the floor clean.
The plane was immaculate. It was divided into sections with earth tone interiors and darker carpets. The first section was laid out as an elegant office with an office sized walnut table surrounded by swivel seats that made the expensive executive chair I had at Section Twelve sit like something from cheapest line that Walmart sold.
There was a sixty inch flat screen on one wall opposite the table; there was another to the side of the cockpit door. There was a full sized copier, printer and fax machine on a counter with a USB hub on the left side of the aircraft.
The next section was a huge entertainment and relaxation section. There were small tables, fancy recliners and two more flat screens.
The center section was for the flight attendant’s station and to fix meals, with a refrigerator, liquor cabinet and cooler.
The next section was a real shower with real doors, no plastic curtains. Opposite the shower were a vanity and a real flush toilet – not the normal stainless steel aviation version.
The final section in the tail had a king size bed with dressers and TV.
Because this plane was designed to fly a limited number of people, some of the cargo bay baggage storage had been replaced with fuel tanks. With a few exceptions the plane would fly between any two cities in the world in class. Only our G650 ER had more range.
After the walk-through, we went over to the 2013 737 that had with more hours on the meter. It was equally as elegant and I actually liked the interior better for some reason. I noticed that the two men who were in the hotel lobby this morning were watching us out of the window of the general aviation terminal.
The pilots found nothing wrong in the walk around inspection on either plane. Jack was satisfied with the plane’s mechanical logs. He had even taken pictures of the repair entries and paper work and then sent them to Robbie. They had discussed both planes in depth.
I did ask about the communications systems, specifically the satellite and internet hookups while the plane was flying. I needed to be sure MTAC and VCATS would work. I was assured they would work.
Andy handed me my company laptop from outside the plane; he was the only true security person on site so he was outside the plane. The connection worked fine.
Gregory wanted us to do the negotiations in the newer 737. I wondered why it made any difference at all.
Back on the tarmac between planes I cornered the girls. “When we are finished here do you want to stay here for another day or go home? The reason I ask is we would need to check out,” I asked.
I had told them to pack everything this morning in case we needed to leave for an emergency or otherwise in a hurry. It was always standard procedure for me to do that, the same as having a go bag with me at the office.
The decision was quickly made to go home. Marcy, Vicky and I had been gone over two weeks. Things needed to happen at home and DC. I sent the pilots with the room keys to collect all the baggage.
Gregory and the six began the sales push – they didn’t even ask which one we liked the best; they were pushing the 2016.
Marcy asked the price four times. They kept avoiding her by listing all the extras the plane had and those that were built in.
“I asked the price and that’s what I want to hear. You’re pushing this plane awfully hard and I wonder why.”
“The owner had paid for the bare plane before it was released, according to the paperwork we have been shown.”
“The custom interior was paid for on a percentage basis as the work was completed with final payment on acceptance. I know the base price of the frame was ninety million and the up fit was thirty million. Now what is the asking price,” Marcy asked in a rather loud voice. One that clearly indicated the bullshit was over.
“One hundred and ten million,” Gregory replied.
“You didn’t answer why Boeing is pushing so hard to sell a private plane when your sales division explicitly says they do not offer private aircraft sales,” Marcy said as she pointed it out in the sales brochure.
“OK, you are right; Mr. Derrick Holland is in a position to move a multi-billion dollar commercial sale to our competitors. He feels he was wronged in the purchase of this plane by our sales department.”
“The salesman used questionable data in the aircraft performance computer programming for the airport Mr. Holland was to keep the plane at. Mr. Holland argues that data resulted in the crash and damage. The data worked fine in perfect conditions but a slick runway was a bad combination. We agreed to help him sell the plane to keep on good relations,” Gregory said.
“One hundred and ten million is out of the question for a three year old 737 with a structural damage certificate attached to its airworthiness certificates and FAA records forever. If this sale is so important to Boeing you can do far better than that. Get to the final deal and get there fast,” Marcy said.
There was a huddle then.
“Boeing will give you a ten million cash refund, and credit your commercial account thirty million to be used against future parts and labor. We know you already own several Boeing aircraft, over time you will have use for the credit. But we have to have a check for 110 million to appease the owner. The cost of the plane will be 70 million,” Gregory said.
“Because of your inflated labor time charges and 1000% markup on parts, your credit will cost you less than five million. That is not enough to swing this deal. You have to add a ten year unconditional warranty to all of the air frame, parts and labor connected to the landing gear damage, and all attachments and you have to pay interest at prime on the unused portion of the credit,” Marcy said.
“We can’t do that.” Howard Freeland said.
“Sure you can. If the repairs are as good as you say there will be no claims so it will cost you nothing but a sheet of paper. Are you saying you have no confidence in the repair and skills of your people?” Marcy asked.
“For Boeing interest on the credit is nothing,” Marcy added.
“I have to call Seattle,” Howard said.
“We are going to call the fuel truck to fuel the G5s. If you don’t have an answer by the time they are finished the offer is off the table,” Marcy said.
Lorrie stepped to the door and gave instructions to Jack for the fuel and to work up the flight plans to leave.
Marcy upped the pressure by writing out a check for the amount and placing it on the table in sight of Gregory.
“If they meet our terms, the check is already filled out,” she said as she slid it to Lorrie for the second signature.
“By the way what is the deal on the 2013 model?” Lorrie asked.
“The blue 777 BBJ at Paris is to replace it. The owner also lives here,” Gregory said.
“What’s the price?” Lorrie asked.
“Sixty million,” Gregory said.
Glances were exchanged between Lorrie, Jeanna and Marcy then Jeanna started the round of nods.
“I will write you a check for fifty five million and we take it home with us,” Marcy said.
Gregory took out his phone and made a call. Moments later “The fuel is on the owner, write out the check. He is on the way with the papers.
Howard turned, “You have a deal and we will fill it with fuel.”
Lorrie started out the door and I followed to hear her do a cowboy whistle and wave to the pilot group that was watching the fuel truck wind up the hoses.
“Fill both 737’s and the owners are paying for it. Then sort out the pecking order for pilots; we bought both of them. We are leaving as soon as the paperwork is completed,” Lorrie said.
I looked at Lorrie, “Both of them?” I asked.
“I made some calls before we left. I already have one of them booked for a month by Hooker and Booker Industrials. It has flights to China, Hong Kong, India, and the Philippines. They also want a month on the first of the year. That is only one of a dozen that have bought blocks of time and confirmed dates.”
“Jeanna has an Executive VP who has been giving her some problems; she wants to down-size his ego next week. There is a meeting in LA. She is going to supply the plane. Business is good,” Lorrie said.
I smiled; I knew there must have been a plan. With my arm around her we walked back to the plane to sign papers. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and not sleeping with one eye open.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.