All aboard: Check out what Saudi billionaires are splurging on now!
The ultra rich who want to fly in style while surrounded by dozens of friends and colleagues are turning to manufacturers of commercial planes instead of relatively puny private jets to buy massive, personalized luxury liners.
Wired reports that the makers of jumbo jets like the 747 and A380 are happily personalizing their planes to suit the outrageous needs and tastes of Saudi princes, Russian oligarchs and the like.
In fact, Airbus is so interested in the business that they conducted a 'billionaires study,' which concluded that Middle Eastern oil magnates and Chinese captains of industry just happen to like to travel in groups of more than a dozen.
That means that Gulfstreams or Bombardiers, luxurious though they may be, just won't cut it.
Instead, the very same cramped commercial jets the typical traveler dreads being herded into are gutted and redecorated with fine dining tables, leather chairs, master bedrooms and entertainment centers.
For those in the market for these luxury liners, money is no option.
And it can't be. Wired estimates that a privatized Boeing 737 goes for $80, the even bigger Boeing 747 goes for $280 million and the massive double-decker Airbus A380 could be yours for a whopping $300 million.
Each buyer gets to choose from a wide range of customizations to make the private jet his or her own.
'They want to take what they are used to in their homes or offices into the air,' Airbus marketing director David Velupillai told the Sydney Morning Herald. '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.'
They feature dining tables large enough for even the most ambitious family dinners, lush sofas and one is even rumored to have come with a bowling alley.
Which should come as no surprise, considering the average buyer's buying power.
'Our market is to billionaires, not millionaires,' admits Velupillai.
By Joshua Gardner