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Corporate travel leads to flights of fancy for lucky few

Corporate travel leads to flights of fancy for lucky few

IT´S a growing trend for the mega-rich: flying palaces that can range from a comparatively modest Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 to the spacious luxury of the double-decker A380 superjumbo.

The booming market for large executive jets from Airbus and Boeing was highlighted earlier this month with multi-billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia signing up for an A380 worth $ 300 million. Prince Alwaleed is the first customer for the VIP version of the A380, which will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

"Prince Alwaleed´s order means that Airbus´s sales success in the corporate jet market now extends from its smallest aircraft, the (100 passenger) A318 Elite, allthe way up to its largest, the A380 Flying Palace," Airbus chief operating officer, customers, John Leahy told The Australian.

The Saudi prince is the only private owner of a Boeing 747-400, but Boeing has sold no fewer than five of the latest version of the jumbo, the 747-8 model due to fly in 2009. Airbus has sold more than 100 of the smaller 150-seat A320 series and more than 40 Airbus wide-bodies for VIP and government service. Boeing has chalked up even more business for VIP models of its aircraft. This year alone it has sold 30 Boeing business jets (BBJs).

The luxury fitout business for corporate jets is also booming, with creative studios around the world striving to come out with the next thing in opulence. One of the leaders in designing corporate interiors is California-based BMW Group DesignworksUSA, commissioned by Boeing to design an interior of "unlimited freedom, luxurious mobility and unparalleled exclusivity" for a fictitious affluent Russian client in his mid-30s.

The BMW DesignworksUSA concept has helped Boeing business jets sell 11 787s for VIP use in the past two years.

The world´s largest supplier of corporate VIP interiors is Greenpoint Technologies, which specialises in VIP interiors for Boeing and recently launched its SkyHome 2010 concept 787 design.

According to The Australian Business

/ Новости