“"I've got a list of corporations that have gotten out of their airplanes [because of criticism from politicians]. It is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. When you look at the time and cost savings; it does not make sense not to fly [privately]. You can't let public perception interfere with your business decision to fly. It either is a good business decision or it isn't."”
A palace that flies
Have you ever looked around a corporate jet and wished you had more room? Room perhaps to transport not only your closest advisers but also dozens of staff members, in a space the size of a large home? That's what private customers for Airbus' mammoth A380 will have.
The buyer of the first such "flying palace" is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, previously the world's only private owner of a Boeing 747-400. His A380 will have some 6,000 square feet of usable space divided between two decks. The mega-jetliner has the range to fly virtually anywhere in the world nonstop, and can operate from nearly any airport that can handle a 747. The price tag for such capability is about $319 million for the "green" aircraft; completing it could cost another $200 million.
While a completion center has yet to be chosen for the prince's A380, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2010, it will reportedly include lavish living quarters, a business center to monitor the owner's extensive financial holdings, a theater and what is believed to be the first Jacuzzi certified for in-flight use. The VIP liner will transport fewer than 100 people in a space that could carry up to 800 in the A380's economy configuration.