Airbus sells first private A380 VIP to Saudi Prince


Saudi Prince buys his own A380Article from: Reuters

November 13, 2007 04:05am
SAUDI billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has become the first person to buy the ultimate status symbol - his own A380 superjumbo.

Planemaker Airbus named the Saudi royal, whose interests span hotels and banking to the operator of Disneyland Paris, as the mystery buyer of a VIP version dubbed the Flying Palace.

The buyer’s identity had been secret for months but was unveiled to coincide with the Dubai air show overnight.

The price of the deal was not disclosed. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich recently denied buying the plane, which costs over $US300 million ($331.69 million) to ordinary airlines.

Prince Alwaleed confirmed the order despite seeing $US2.5 billion ($2.76 billion) wiped off his personal fortune in the past month due to a slide in the shares of US banking group Citigroup.

Prince Alwaleed owns around 95 per cent of Kingdom, which in turn owns 3.6 per cent of the US banking giant, reeling from subprime mortgage losses and the global credit crisis.

He is the world’s 13th richest person, according to Forbes magazine, and Citigroup’s largest individual shareholder.

He already owns a Boeing 747-400, the newest type of the original jumbo jet currently in service.

The Airbus superjumbo has been hit by production delays but entered service with Singapore Airlines last month.

It can seat 525 passengers in three classes or more than 800 in an all-economy layout, by using less space between seats.

Leg room will not be a problem on the Flying Palace, which has 551 square metres of floor space - enough to hold the ballroom of London’s Savoy Hotel, which Alwaleed owns.

The A380 can be fitted with cocktail bars, casinos, showers and sleeping quarters for first class passengers on ordinary airlines. But for the super-rich, the sky is the limit.

“It would depend very much on what sort of cabin interior the purchaser wanted,” an Airbus official said this year. “On our VIP jets we offer the option to include whatever they want.”

Aviation experts say it is only a matter of time before big spenders like Chelsea soccer club owner Abramovich are courted by Airbus and rival Boeing.

Sales of private jets are booming amid security concerns.

Boeing has three VIP clients who have bought five of its latest giant, the 747-8 Intercontinental which is due to enter service with airlines in 2010, a Boeing spokesman said.

A nephew of King Abdullah, Prince Alwaleed began investing after graduating from California’s Menlo College in 1979.

A year later, he received a $US300,000 ($331,700) loan from Saudi American Bank, now known as Samba, which was run by Citicorp, according to his biography.

The prince invested $US590 million ($652.33 million) in Citicorp in 1991 at a time when the bank needed cash as it struggled with Latin American loan losses and a collapse in US real-estate prices. That stake is now worth about $US6 billion ($6.63 billion).

Kingdom had $US24 billion ($26.54 billion) in assets at the end of 2006.


HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal places first order for A380 flying palace
12 November 2007

HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of Kingdom Holding company, has signed a firm order with Airbus for an A380 Flying Palace, becoming the first customer for the VIP version of the new double-deck airliner.

The A380 will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. It will undergo cabin outfitting at a yet to be chosen completion centre.

Airbus A380 Flying Palace allows customers to trade up to more space, more comfort and a more modern design that flies non-stop to the world. It will also allow them to benefit from more tranquil travel in the A380s outstandingly quiet cabin, as well as the peace of mind that its four engines bring.

Prince Alwaleeds order means that Airbus sales success in the corporate jet market now extends from its smallest aircraft, the A318 Elite, all the way up to its largest, the A380 Flying Palace, comments Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers, John Leahy. It also complements our strong VIP A330/A340 sales, he adds.

Airbus A380 is the worlds newest airliner, and entered service last month with Singapore Airlines, one of many prestigious customers.

Featuring a wider fuselage than todays largest aircraft plus 50 per cent more floorspace (551 m2/5,930 ft2), the Airbus A380 has also been designed to use existing runways - taking off and landing in less distance.

Sales of the Airbus Corporate Jetliner Family, comprising the A318 Elite, ACJ and A320 Prestige, recently passed the 100 order milestone, highlighting their increasing appeal to corporate, individual and government customers. In addition, more than 40 Airbus widebodies are in widespread VIP and government service.

All Airbus aircraft feature the most modern designs in their class, delivering unmatched appeal and value to the passengers that fly in them and the companies that buy and operate them. Benefits include the latest fuel-saving aerodynamic designs, extensive use of weight-saving carbonfibre, a common cockpit that reduces training costs, cost and time-saving centralised maintenance, and a worldwide customer support network.

Airbus is an EADS company.

About HRH Prince Alwaleed:
His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud is the founder and chairman of one of the worlds most successful and diversified financial investment enterprises, Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), with total assets of around US$ 25 billion. The man and vision behind one of the worlds most successful international holding companies has been named twice by Forbes magazine as one of the smartest and most creative investors in the world. Prince Alwaleed is the only private owner of a Boeing 747-400.


Here is the owner of the private A380

I guess this is the trade in?


Artist drawings The latest interior concepts for A380 VIP versions have been completed by Lufthansa Technik.