Sunday 23 November 2014

Harrington ditches jet as Gulfstream up for sale

Karl MacGinty

Published 23/10/2012 | 05:00

Padraig Harrington has quit golf's jet set. Ireland's three-time Major champion, who is playing this week in Bermuda, has placed his Gulfstream III private jet on the market 22 months after buying the luxury 13-seater for a bargain $2m (€1.5m).

The sky-high price of flying, fuelling, parking and maintaining a plane capable of flying across the Atlantic, has put the Gulfstream out of bounds -- even for one of Ireland's most successful international sporting heroes, who has banked €32m-plus prize money on the course and reputedly has earned as much again in sponsorship.

Asked if the cost of keeping their own plane had been prohibitive, Harrington's wife Caroline said: "That's it, pure and simple."

Mrs Harrington revealed the golfer and his family used the aircraft for the final time in August, flying to the Barclays FedEx Cup play-off at New York's Bethpage State Park.

It was then placed in the hands of Premier Executive Jets, an Irish firm based at Weston Aerodrome in Lucan, Dublin, who have advertised the prestige 1986 plane internationally.

A company representative was not prepared to discuss the price they expected the Gulfstream to fetch, though he expected it could have "gained in value" since Harrington bought it in January 2011.

"The market was very depressed when he purchased the aircraft but it's much stronger now, especially in the US as companies expand once again into global markets."

After several high-flying seasons after his back-to-back British Open victories in 2007 and 2008, followed by his third Major title in 13 months at the US PGA that August, Harrington's on-course earnings nosedived in 2011.

After banking a career-high €3.5m prize money in 2008, backed-up by a couple of multi-million dollar endorsement deals, Harrington earned just €540,000 on the world's fairways last year.

Leaders

The 40-year-old Dubliner has pulled out of his tailspin on the golf course in 2012 and his earnings this season have already soared to €1.4m in 2012.

Yet it's significant that two of golf's biggest earners, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have endorsement deals with Netjets, leaders in the field of aircraft leasing, a flight path Harrington himself used to follow.

Before buying his own aircraft, Harrington used to quote US billionaire Warren Buffet's description of his jet as "the great unjustifiable," the Irishman adding: "And I don't think I'll be able to justify it either."

Once he'd joined the jet set, however, he invariably contradicted descriptions of the plane as "a luxury", insisted it played "a significant role in my job".

Irish Independent

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