April 3, 2007
Oh, the infinite possibilities of the ginormous A380… How about private penthouse?
While most travelers are content to rent, the elite are increasingly looking to buy — hotel rooms, cruise ship cabins, private islands… and the eight-story high, 10,000-square-foot, $300-million Airbus A380. An anonymous Middle Eastern multi-billionaire has ordered the biggest, most expensive plane in history to use as his private jet. Instead of 500-800 seats, he’s kitting it out with a gym, a boardroom, two dining halls, a 600-square-foot bedroom, and of course a mile-high whirlpool tub. The missile defense system is an option he’s yet to decide on. The “flying palace” is expected to cost considerably more than the $10,500 per hour that’s required to operate the 747-400. (He’s rumored to be an oil magnate, so he should bag a good fuel deal.) But flying it isn’t the challenge; landing it is. The impossibility of touching down at glam-but-small airports such as Nice and Aspen has been widely reported, and Airbus itself admits only 70 of the world’s 49,000 airports will be ready by 2011. Yet for the must-have-it traveler who thinks a 767 might be more practical, Boeing will gladly comply. They’ll not only modify a plane, they’ll provide a starter kit for owning one’s own airline.