“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”
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.