There’s flying in First Class and then, there’s owning a private jet.
There are enough billionaires now to sustain a lucrative segment of uber-luxury travel. We’ve featured a few recent innovations in the personal jet marketplace on AlphaLuxe: Embraer Kyoto Airship and Cirrus Vision. The former is a flying glasshouse and you have to fly the latter jet yourself.
Here is a look at five of the best luxury private jets that you can travel at the back and in style:
5. Cessna Citation Longitude
This super mid-size business jet for up to 12 people and costs $26 million. It is a tad narrow but has a cabin equipped with a few gadgets like a microwave oven and expresso machine.
There are big comfy armchairs and 15 large windows for an airy feel.
It also comes with a walk-in baggage compartment and spacious bathroom.
You could fly from London, U.K. to Chicago or Dubai and land on convenient small airports.
Cruise speed: 476 kn (548 mph; 882 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nmi (4,028 mi; 6,482 km)
Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (14,000 m)
Takeoff: 4,900 ft (1,494 m)
Landing: 3,400 ft (1,036 m)
4. Airbus Corporate Jet ACJ319
Airbus has a variety of luxurious private jets for between $72 million and $110 million, depending on their size. The price does not include the cost of outfitting the cabin. The most common private jet is based on the Airbus 319 that seats up to 50 passengers but may be outfitted by the customers into any configuration. Because of its wider fuselage diameter, it offers a roomier interior than its competitors. It’s the widest and tallest cabin of any business jet with intercontinental range.
Here is an 8-pax seating VIP version…
While most private-jet manufacturers boast about their wide range of choices for interiors, Airbus offers a simpler option for busy buyers: “off-the-shelf” interior designs. The new Airbus ACJ319 Elegance model features a nearly 79-foot-long cabin fitted with two bathrooms and a galley at the front and a bedroom with a private bathroom at the rear.
In between, the cabin is divided into three areas that owners can fill with a range of predesigned modules for conducting business, conferencing, dining, socializing, or relaxing in a cinema lounge. All the finishing work will be done exclusively by the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre in Toulouse, France.
This $80 million quick fix option is at least $10 million less than the standard, fully customizable version of the jet. To compete with “regular” business jets, the ACJ319 modified from a commercial A319 with removable extra fuel tanks in the cargo compartment giving a range of 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km) and an increased service ceiling of 41,000 ft (12,000 m).
Typical flights of more than 6,000 nautical miles (nmi):
Sydney to Cape Town or Buenos Aries
Los Angeles to Shanghai or Wellington
New York to Dubai or Beijing
Moscow to Rio de Janeiro or Bali
Unfortunately, you can’t use the smaller private airfields because of the runway length required.
Not that it matters to a gazillionaire but it is nice to know that the aircraft can be reconfigured as a standard A319 by removing its extra tanks, thus maximizing its resale value.
Maximum speed: Mach 0.82 (541 mph; 871 km/h)
Cruising speed: Mach 0.78 (515 mph; 829 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nmi (12,000 km)
Service Ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,500 m)
Takeoff: 6,070 ft (1,850 m)
Landing: 4,460 ft (1,360 m)
By the way, if you opt for a wide-body ACJ based on the A330/A340/A350/A380, there is extra room for conference and dining rooms.
3. Gulfstream G650
Officially, for $65 million, you can buy the Gulfstream G650 although new aircraft have exchanged hands immediately aftermarket for $70 million because of the long waiting list. It has the longest and widest cabin of ultra-range private jets on the market. The key word these days is ‘range’ because the ultra-rich hate mid-trip landing to refuel.
For a few million dollars more, the G650ER has an extended range to 7,500 nautical miles. Hong Kong to New York and Sydney to Los Angeles non-stop are now possible.
The bathroom is spacious and not just a closet.
The jet comes with plush lounge chairs that can recline all the way back when you want to sleep.
Maximum speed: Mach 0.925 (530 kn, 610 mph, 982 km/h) for fast cruise
Cruise speed: Mach 0.85 (488 kn, 562 mph, 904 km/h) for long range cruise; Mach 0.90 (516 kn, 595 mph, 956 km/h) for normal cruise
Range: 7,000 nmi (12,960 km) for long range cruise
Service ceiling: 51,000 ft (15,500 m)
2. Embraer Lineage 1000E
The Embraer Lineage 1000E private jet costing $53 million is based on the EJ190 commercial airliner and has 10,000 cubic feet of luxurious cabin space. This allows for a choice from five cabin concepts fitted with sofas and comfy leather chairs: The Skyacht One, The Kyoto Airship, The Skyranch One, The Manhattan and The Hollywood.
The Embraer Kyoto Airship concept was reported on AlphaLuxe before.
The master suite has a large bed and a private bathroom with walk-in shower.
The standard range is a tad short at only 4,600 nmi but can be extended by specifying the configuration to seat 8 – 10 passengers.
Maximum speed: Mach 0.82 (541 mph; 871 km/h)
Cruise speed: 472kn (543 mph; 874 km/h)
Range: 4,600 nmi (8,519 km)
Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,500 m)
Take-Off: 6,076 ft (1,852 m)
Landing: 2,450 ft (747 m)
1. Boeing BBJ747 VIP private jet
The Boeing BBJ747 VIP private jet is based on the commercial Boeing 747-8 airliner and has actually been produced. It offers 4,786 sq. ft. of space with a stateroom, lounge, office, and dining room. It’s the longest and second-largest airliner ever built.
It costs $367 million in the “green” condition, meaning there are no interior furnishings so that the owner can design it to personal preference. The interior components are designed and built in-house.
There is a separate Boeing Business Jet division that supplies the BBJ 747 VIP. This plane has a range of 9,260 nmi (17,150 km) that truly “makes the world your oyster”.
The only problems are that you need to use major airports with long runways and there is nothing discrete about a Boeing 747.
Maximum speed: Mach 0.9 (516 kn; 956 km/h)
Cruise speed: Mach 0.86 (493 kn; 914 km/h)
Range: 8,875 nmi (16,436 km)
Service ceiling: 43,100 ft (13,100 m)
It’s not just the purchase cost of these private jets. You have to factor in the annual fixed cost for the pilots’ salaries, cabin service staff and maintenance, as well as hourly running costs depending on fuel consumption and landing fees.
For example, the Gulfstream G650 annual fixed costs could be $2.5 million. The running costs of a private airliner is excruciatingly high e.g. Airbus ACJ320 ultra-long-range, large-cabin business jet comes in at $8,000 per hour.
It can cost between $700,000 and $4 million per year to run your own aircraft.
“The true cost of luxury is the choice it affords.”
I’d choose the Gulfstream G650ER for its discrete size and superior performance (speed and altitude), as well as ability to land at shorter runways and high altitude airfields.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).