You're a billionaire who needs a new private jet, so what's top of your shopping list? An Airbus A380, of course.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – a member of the Saudi Royal Family whose investments in real estate and the stock market have earned him a net worth estimated at A$19.5 billion – is set to take delivery of an A380 to replace his current Boeing 747.
The sticker price for the superjumbo was $320 million – hopefully on one of those 'fly away, no more to pay' deals, because after forking over that much you'd hate to be slugged for delivery fees and on-road costs.
But he's putting down a further $175 million on some lavish modifications such as a gold leaf paintjob (there's $60m gone from the budget), a marble-panelled dining room with seating for 14, a movie theatre with leather seats, a gym and a lounge to seat his entourage of 25 aides.
The bar is dressed in curtains to mimic the tents of the Arabian desert, while a fibre-optic mosaic along the interior walls of the aircraft depicts a shifting desert scene.
Habib Fekih, president of Airbus Middle East, says the company has been approached by two more individuals about the 'VIP' version of the A380. For its part, Boeing expects to sell six of its fourth-gen 747-8 'Intercontinental' VIP series to individuals by years' end at around $300m each.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.