Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

Bigger jets for the most wealthy

SEATTLE — In early March, Boeing's biggest jet, the 747-8 Intercontinental, took off from Paine Field near here, its gleaming white livery shrouded in secrecy.

But the newest version of the airliner, which can carry 460 passengers, was not destined for a commercial airline. This particular model, the 747-VIP, was headed for a private customer in the Middle East believed to be the emir of Qatar.

Airbus, too, is about to deliver its own behemoth jetliner — the A380 double-decker — to a single customer this year, the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, a major investor in Citigroup. Ordered in 2007, it will be the most expensive personal jet, with a final price well in excess of $500 million, including the cost of outfitting it with one-of-a kind amenities. The original plans included a garage for two Rolls-Royces, a stable for horses and camels, a pen for hawks and a prayer room that rotates so it always points toward Mecca.

It is the ultimate call sign of the superrich: a big plane to flaunt their wealth while they conduct business above 40,000 feet.

Defying the economic slump, celebrities, corporate titans and Internet entrepreneurs in recent years have upgraded to bigger planes, with leather seats, plush bedrooms and opulent boardrooms. New billionaires in fast-growing countries like China, India, Russia and Nigeria are also seeking long-range planes that can serve hard-to-reach airports or provide direct service between far-flung cities.

"They have to buy longer-range airplanes. If you're flying from Mongolia to Nigeria, it's either a three-day journey flying commercial or a nine-hour flight on your jet," said Steve Varsano, an airplane broker who recently opened a retail store for corporate jets in London's Hyde Park Corner, an area popular with Russians, Gulf Arabs and other wealthy foreigners. "These frontiers markets have turned into powerful aircraft acquisition markets."

The trend has helped the industry weather the downturn. From 2007 through 2011, sales in the largest jets — those weighing more than 50,000 pounds — have grown by 23 percent to 200, registering just a small dip in 2009, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. By contrast, shipments of the smallest planes have fallen 58 percent to 106 in the same period, while sales of medium-size jets have fallen 43 percent to 375.

"The people we deal with were not too much affected by the crisis," said Habib Fekih, the president of Airbus Corporate Jets.

Comments
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of 'online terrorism'

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of 'online terrorism'

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house." Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. In preliminary findings of ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida continues to coast with relatively low unemployment and modest job gains. In March, for the sixth straight month, the state’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent. Florida added 13,800 jobs over the month.Tampa Bay’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent...
Updated: 5 hours ago
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — At the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich history into a destination offering even more heady experiences — extravagant, edgy and bohemian.In Tampa, Schrager will have...
Updated: 10 hours ago