Inside Qatar's $400 million Royal Boeing Business Jet
Arguably the world's most exclusive private planes, Boeing Business Jets, have long been an aspiration for billionaires and royals alike. Whereas building a BBJ requires going through a wait list to spend over $250 million plus customisation costs, a new option has now appeared on the market and it's available right away.
According to multiple reports in the media, the Royal Family of Qatar is selling a 747-8 Boeing Business Jet, which they took delivery of in 2015. Having flown only 403 hours, the airliner is in near mint condition and a rare opportunity for someone to get their hands on a royal plane.
Although no listing price has been put on the online ad for the BBJ, it is known that Boeing charges $402.9 million for this type of aircraft, tens of millions would then need to be added to the price to turn it into the 445 square meter flying palace that it is.
One of two Boeing 747-8 private jets reportedly owned by the Royal Family of Qatar, the aircraft is now looking for a new owner as the Qatari are reportedly in the market for a new plane. Divided into several lounge areas, a downstairs and upstairs layout, the BBJ features a large bedroom suite as well as a dinning room that can sit 14.
Decorated with golden features, reminiscent of Middle Eastern Royalty, the BBJ is deeply customised to fit the needs of its owners. This 747-8 has the capacity to carry up to 76 VIP passengers and 18 air staff, compared to the 467 passengers it carries under a commercial set up. Facilities on board also include a medical area and large bathrooms.
From a layout standpoint, the 747-8i stretches over an area of over 450 square meters inside. On top of a master bedroom, dinning table and private office, the aircraft features 3 kitchen areas and 8 bathrooms on top of a medical area. From an operational standpoint, filling the plane's fuel tank would cost $280,000 per tank for a maximum range of 14,780km.
Parked in Switzerland at the time the ad was placed online, the BBJ is likely to find a buyer amongst UHNWIs thanks to its configuration. Indeed, commercial airlines would need to first pay for the extra customisation in the purchase just to retrofit the plane back to commercial, which would make it a tough buy for them.
Listing one of their flagship business jets up for sale is, however, nothing out of the ordinary for the Qatari Royal Family who is likely set to upgrade its fleet in the near future. In April 2016, the Royal Family had already listed for sale one of their older Boeing 747 business jets.
Painted in Qatar's national colours, the 747 had started its life as a Pan Am plane before being purchased by the ruling Al Thani family in 1995 and refurbished into a head of state private jet. Later refitted once again in 2004, the jet also feature a master bedroom, a board room, a private office, a lounge area and a number of regular seats.
In its configuration, the business jet could carry up to 89 passengers with 12 VVIP seats, 18 business class ones and 31 'tourist' classed accommodation. At the time, the business jet was valued by experts at near $25 million due to its advanced age.
With heavily customised interiors, delivery times for Boeing Business Jets typically to heavily increase, according to experts, interior design alterations can take up more than half the time of the total construction time of such a jet. For the 747-8i listed by the Qatari Royal Family, interior design took nearly 3 years with the plane ready by 2012 and delivered customised in 2015.
Despite their luxury amenities for their owners and high end guests, some of the space in these flying mansions is reserved for typical business to economy class seats in order to allow for the transport of a larger number of passengers onboard. Changing configurations of such aircrafts to the layout of a business jet typically costs $15 million and up.
The Qatari Royal Family were not the only UHNWIs to have commercial airliners converted into private jets. Amongst other known billionaires with Boeing Business Jets are Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC as well as Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, who retrofitted a Boeing that used to fly for Qantas airlines.