Monday, November 12, 2007

Plane Porn: The Private A380












Lookit that! Those are some renderings of what an Airbus A380 might look like outfitted as a private jet.

I wrote about this a while ago, but now there's an actual buyer identified. (Airbus told me they have still another private-A380 buyer lined up, but didn't identify the person).

The superjumbo Airbus A380, the first commercial flight of which occurred recently from Sydney to Singapore on Singapore Airlines, is also being marketed as a business jet for the extremely rich.

But build a little skepticism in for media hype here, because it's going to be many years before Airbus delivers any A380 to any private customer. So far, 10 A380s have been built, of the total 189 on order by 16 corporate customers, including international airlines (no U.S. carriers, and none on the horizon) and airline fleet-leasers.

By the end of 2009, assuming there are no further production hitches in the hitch-plagued production schedule, Airbus will have completed fewer than 100 of the planes already ordered.
So that's a long time before the Saudi prince -- who's currently in a mere private Boeing 747 -- gets his plane (and by the way, sweet Jayzus, how many princes does that country have? I know it's somewhere in the thousands).

(Some of the background in the AP story linked to above is ridiculously wrong. You can't get a LearJet or a Gulfstream for "$2 to $5 million," for example. Add a zero to those single digits. Also, that British editor the AP quotes is misinformed. There are dozens of commercial airliners that have been converted to private jets, including A319s and 320s and Boeing 737s, 757s, 767s and 747s. There are at least 10 private 747s flying now.)

Anyway, it's nice to have a look at what the designers of a private A380 have envisioned. These mock-ups were given to me last year by Lufthansa Technik, the Lufthansa subsidiary that specializes in private jet interior design, among other things.

The A380 currently sells for about $320 million. Add another $100 to $125 million for the interior fixings, Technik says.

I flew the A380 on a shakedown flight between Frankfurt and New York earlier this year, by the way. That plane, operated by a Lufthansa crew, carried about 500 people in three classes.


The A380 actually is actually certified to carry 853, just to give you an image of the other extreme from the Saudi prince's airborne palace. Imagine, just you and 852 others on a plane! Or lined up at the baggage carousel.

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1 comment:

Mark said...

The A380 is also billing itself as environmentally friendly. This might be true if it was fully loaded with economy seats - but it is not true if its being used to fly a Saudi prince around while millions starve.