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Does tracking Jeff Bezos's plane offer clues to location of Amazon's new HQ?

Edward Helmore in New York

Twenty US cities are vying a $5bn investment and 50,000 jobs, so are the movements of the CEO’s aircraft, N-271DV, the key to HQ2?

Jeff Bezos’s Gulfstrea, G650ER has touched down in or near the candidate cities Boston, Washington, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey. Photograph: Brent Lewis/Denver Post via Getty Images

The tail number of Jeff Bezos’ $75m, 18-seat Gulfstream G650ER jet may provide the best clue yet of Amazon’s choice for a second US headquarters, otherwise known as HQ2.

Flights records show the Amazon CEO’s aircraft, N-271DV, was in Boston just before and after Amazon announced the HQ2 search and landed in Washington DC the day the 20 finalists were announced in January, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Of the HQ2 candidate cities on Amazon’s shortlist, Bezos’ plane – which has a range of 7,500 miles – has also touched down near Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey.

“While they aren’t necessarily an indicator of the company’s likelihood of choosing one of these cities for its second headquarters, Bezos’ familiarity and frequent travel to some of the cities could weigh in his decision on where HQ2 ends up,” the Journal reported.

However, the publication warned that the flight records it obtained may not reflect every flight the plane has taken, nor do the flights that have been tracked contain a passenger manifest.

The plane tracking site flightaware.com lists Bezos’s aircraft as “not available for tracking per request from the owner/operator”.

For the sake of Bezos’s convenience, Amazon might naturally chose Washington DC for HQ2 since it is where the multi-billionaire’s Washington Post is published and where he recently purchased the city’s largest house, with 25 bedrooms.

Amazon has said it plans to create 50,000 jobs and invest over $5bn in the chosen city.

However, the beauty contest has also attracted criticism, especially over the generous tax incentives and other inducements some cities have offered.

Included in Amazon’s top 20 finalists are Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Mongomery County in Maryland and Nashville, Tennessee.

An Amazon spokesperson, however, has warned not to read too much into the movements of Bezos’s aircraft, telling the New York Observer “there is no connection between Bezos’ personal and business travel and the HQ2 search.”