some people by private jets for 10 people or so and others buy....
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- In the annals of excess, it could be a new high: a more than $300-million, supersized luxury airplane, bought and outfitted solely for the private comfort of a Saudi Arabian billionaire.
Once done, the Airbus A380, the world's biggest passenger plane, will be a "flying palace" for Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, the manufacturer announced yesterday.
Airbus SAS would not give a specific price tag for the VIP double-decker jet, with its football field-length wings, saying only that it would cost more than the aircraft's list price of $320-million (U.S.).
That doesn't even include the money the prince will spend to custom fit the nearly 557-square-metre plane to include whatever he wants. The options include private bedrooms, a movie theatre or even a gymnasium with a Jacuzzi.
He'll also need a flight crew of about 15 to operate the luxury liner.
"Prince al-Waleed is the first, and so far the only customer of this aircraft," said David Velupillai, the spokesman of Airbus, which announced the luxury order at the Dubai air show.
It's all just spending cash for Prince al-Waleed, Citigroup Inc.'s biggest individual shareholder and the world's 13th richest person with assets around $20-billion.
As a member of the Saudi royal family, he benefits from the country's vast energy wealth. But much of Prince al-Waleed's huge fortune comes from his investment firm, the $25-billion Kingdom Holding Co., which has stakes in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Fairmont Raffles Hotels International Inc., Time Warner Inc., Apple Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Walt Disney Co. to name a few major corporations.
The prince, who is in his early 50s, appears to have a taste for supersized jumbo jets. He already is the only private owner of a Boeing 747-400, Airbus said.
Airbus would not release many details about Prince al-Waleed's VIP A380, which dwarfs the 747, formerly the world's most spacious plane.
The commercial A380, which made its maiden voyage with Singapore Airlines last month, is as tall as a seven-storey building with each wing big enough to hold 70 cars. It is capable of carrying 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.
Meanwhile, Airbus, the world's biggest plane maker, forecast record orders this year, putting it on course to beat Boeing Co., after securing more than $50-billion of commitments at the Dubai air show.
Orders should surpass the 1,111 amassed in 2005, chief executive officer Tom Enders said yesterday at the show. Boeing, which had 956 orders through Oct. 6 and does not forecast orders, is within 66 planes of having its third-straight record year.