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Tue, Nov 13, 2007

Oh My, Dubai! Airbus Discloses First A380 'Flying Palace' Customer

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Already Has His Own 747

It's good to be king. Or, in this case, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of Kingdom Holding company... who signed a firm order with Airbus for an A380 Flying Palace, becoming the first customer for the VIP version of the new double-deck superjumbo.

Airbus tells ANN the ultra-lux A380 will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. It will undergo cabin outfitting at a yet to be chosen completion center.

"Prince Alwaleed’s 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," said Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers, John Leahy. "It also complements our strong VIP A330/A340 sales."

With a pricetag of $320 million -- before cabin outfitting -- the Flying Palace offers nearly 6,000-square feet of cabin space. The aircraft will require a flight crew of about 15 to operate.

"Prince Alwaleed is the first, and so far the only customer of this aircraft," Airbus spokesman David Velupillai told Breitbart.

The prince is the biggest individual shareholder in Citigroup Inc., and the world's 13th wealthiest individual. He also likes big planes; his current aerial chariot is a 747-400, the only such aircraft in private hands.

"It's like buying a new car or a new TV," Velupillai wryly told The Associated Press. "One wants something bigger and better."

FMI: www.airbus.com, www.kingdom.com.sa/default.asp?lang=en

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