Inside the world's most expensive private jet
The only private Dreamliner available for charter, the Dream Jet, as it was dubbed by its Chinese operating company, Deer Jet is one of a total of 15 Boeing Business Jets 787 aircrafts ordered so far from Boeing. Having cost an estimated $300 million, the private aircraft would cost around $70,000 per hour to rent.
Spreading over 220 square feet of luxury, the Dream Jet is able to fly for up to 20 uninterrupted hours with a total of 40 passengers aboard. Having made its world debut at the Geneva air show, it later embarked on a world tour to be introduced to potential customers. "It costs around $70,000 an hour, so it’s a very exclusive market." commented Omar Hosari, CEO of UAS, the Dubai-based company tasked with promoting the Dream Jet globally.
"This VIP BBJ 787 is the most high-end business jet in the world." added Denzil White, President of Deer Jet's Hong Kong subsidiary. "It will push us to grow faster." underlined Zhang Peng, Deer Jet's CEO at the time of the announcement of the project in May 2016. Even on shorter, sub 2-hour routes, the aircraft is being marketed at near $500,000 per flight according to data gathered by BEAM.
The main selling point of the Dream Jet is its spacious lounge and dinning room located in the middle of the aircraft. A feature typically absent from any business jet due to limited space, the lounge is structured into a TV area, with a large screen and ample seating, as well as a dinning area. The TV space can also be used for lounging and entertainment.
Split into four coffee tables during take off and landing, two dinning tables seating 6 each can be created by connecting them together. The tables are serviced by a crew of four flight attendants from a service area located directly near the dinning section. Main salons of this size are typically found onboard superyachts.
Forward of the Dream Jet is a dedicated master bedroom to be used by the principal charterer of the plane. Equipped with a fully fledged bed, two night stands are located on either side of the bed with also some storage space. To the left of the bed are three large windows to look out into the sky, a set up that is, once again reminiscent of a cabin on a superyacht.
Whereas it is not atypical to find beds in private jets, these are typically assembled by connecting together two premium seats in the main cabin. To have a dedicated bedroom on a private jet is something only possible thanks to the scale on VVIP airliners such as the Dreamliner or the Airbus 318 Elite.
To the back of the master cabin, ie forward of the plane, is a master washroom. Despite being on an airliner, the washroom doesn't pale in comparison to a five star hotel. Amenities include two large sinks, a wide and tall mirror, as well as a private head and shower.
Further of the master bedroom, one can also find a dressing area for the main charterer to get into his day or night clothes with ease in the airliner. The master suite is linked with the lounge and dinning room by a corridor. It can also be walked around to reach the cockpit through an alley left of the master bedroom.
Through the master bedroom's corridor can directly be accessed the airliner's TV area. Structured into a lounging sofa, a coffee table and four separate chairs, it can also be transformed during night flights to sleep another two people or sit up to four people during take off and landing.
The dinning tables aft of the salon can also sit up to 6 people during take off and landing. Whilst in the air, they can, of course, accommodate much more people, these seats are however not classified as having seat belts. Even when the two tables and seats are deployed, there is still ample room to move around the cabin. Configurations of this seating can also vary.
The airliner's main seats are located aft of its lounge, with 18, full flat first class seats to allow the passengers to sit somewhere during take off and landing before they storm the lounge and dinning room. These also flatten out for the passengers to sleep during long flights. To the rear of the airliner are a further 6 premium economy seats for staff and a kitchen.
The airplane was specifically sound proofed to keep sound levels at just 44 decibels at cruising altitude in the master bedroom. That is the equivalent of the noise in a quiet suburb with light traffic according to experts. Comfort comes with a price as renting this Dreamliner for an hour at $74,000 costs more than triple the full cost of a suite on Eithad's first class, long-haul service.
To encourage clients to book the Dream Jet for their travels, Deer Jet has created bespoke packages for its customers. One of these, for example, includes a flight from Hong Kong to Tahiti with a one week stay at the presidential suite of the St Regis Bora Bora free of charge. Guests would still, however, need to pay for the flight back and forth from the island.
With the journey from Hong Kong to Tahiti taking just under 15 hours, the price for a one way ride would come in at just over a $1.1 million. In comparison, a light private jet such as the Phenom 300, a popular private aircraft in the United States, could be purchased for less than the cost of a round trip from Hong Kong to Tahiti in the Dream Jet.
"Our target market is an international clientele, those who enjoy luxury and want to travel under exceptional conditions" said Franck Fang, Deer Jet VP during the aircraft's world tour. "We are leaders in our specialty in Asia, and now we want to become a world leader. This aircraft will help us."
"At each stage of the tour, we adapted the cabin decor to combine the best of its Eastern heritage with the culture of the palace we visited."
Despite not being known to mainstream audiences, Deer Jet is a strong force in private aviation. Launched in China in 1995 as the country's first business jet charter flight company, it operated the first private flight in China's airspace for ExxonMobil executives in the North of the country. Since the operator grew from a single Learjet to now over 90 aircraft under its operation, the largest fleet in the Asian-Pacific region.
Thanks to its flagship 787, its fleet can now connect Asia with most of the world. Earlier in January, the company announced it would start operating routes to Antarctica from Asia. Indeed, the Chinese company already sent a Gulfstream G650 from Hong Kong to Cape Town, South Africa where it refueled before landing in Wolfs Fang Runway, Antarctica. An Angola-based company already operates flights to the area as of 2017 as well as an Australian carrier.
Part of the first flight's paying customers were executives from HNA Group, the parent company of Deer Jet. A Chinese conglomerate part of the Fortune 500, HNA owns 25% of Hilton as well as an equity stake in Grand China Air, which makes up its extensive portfolio in aviation. The company also owns hotels, real estate developments as well as shipyards and a trading company.