Call it a sign of the times: the ultra rich are turning to airline manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus to purchase customized luxury 747's and A380's, not content to travel in relatively small private jets.
As Wired reports, some of the richest people in the world, including Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes, are turning away from the luxury Gulfstream jets that have long been the standard for private travel. Instead, they're turning their attention toward massive custom jumbo jets and manufacturers are happy to oblige.
While commercial jet manufacturers have been fielding custom orders since the late 1990s, an influx of billionaires from the Middle East, Russia, and China has expanded their business. Airbus, which has sold over 170 custom jumbo jets since they opened their private jet branch in 1997, is so interested in the trade that they conducted a "billionaires study" which shows that the super rich prefer to travel with large groups of family and associates. Smaller private jets, even ones as luxurious as a Gulfstream, simply have too much trouble accommodating that many passengers.
The designs that Boeing and Airbus produce are stunning, with full kitchens, luxurious bedrooms, fine dining tables, and even showers filling the interiors of the gutted 747's. The decor rivals the world's finest luxury hotels, and the price tags are astonishing. According to Wired, a private Boeing 737 costs around $80 million, while a 747 goes for $280 million, and an Airbus A380 runs $300 million. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Airbus marketing director David Velupilai confirmed the specialized nature of the practice:
"Yes, our market is to billionaires, not millionaires."Surprisingly, Velupilai said that the owners of such aircraft "are not after the exotic," attributing their desire to comfort and lifestyle:
"They want to take what they are used to in their homes or offices into the air. As you can imagine, a billionaire is going to spend a bit of money having a nice office and home, so they want to duplicate that kind of lifestyle in the air."
It may be only a matter of time before these custom jumbo jets become passé however: As The Inquisitr recently reported, private space companies are developing spaceplanes to take the wealthy on suborbital space flights.
[Images via MailOnline]