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Sun, Aug 29, 2004

Does Abramovich Own The Most Expensive BizJet?

Russian tycoon, owner of UK's Chelsea football club, owns 767-300 described as flying palace

Anyone who knows European football knows the name Roman Abramovich. The Russian tycoon owns the British Chelsea football club, and anyone who has seen him mix it up with fans knows he enjoys the game. Until recently, however, Abramovich had to settle for getting around in Ilyushin airliners with questionable safety records not exactly the most comfortable digs.

That has all changed now, as Abramovich has taken delivery of a $173 million customized Boeing 767-300 that the Times of London is saying gives him the honor of owning the most expensive non-royalty bizjet in the world.

The 767-300 was original a 350-pax aircraft owned by Ansett, an aircraft leasing company. Ansett was about to sell it to Hawaiian Airlines when Abramovich bought it. After stripping it down to the bare metal and wires, Abramovich reportedly spent nearly $18 million at Jet Aviation out of Baset, Switzerland, just to do the interior precisely the way he wanted it (including a 100% scale mockup).

Not included in the $18 million: missile-jamming electronics, about $1.4 million, as well as a special Swedish environmental system that keeps the humidity in the aircraft just right.

Jet Aviation refused to confirm that it had so much as seen the aircraft, even though the company's website talks about a recently completed 767, and has pictures of an extremely luxurious interior.

The list of amenities on Abramovich's 767 reads like the description of the presidential suites at the most discriminating luxury hotels. The aircraft has a dining room with seating for 30 guests. Abramovich's office in the sky is decorated with panelling that seems to have been taken right out of a palace. Egg-shaped ornaments reminiscent of Faberge eggs are located at strategic places in the aircraft. The list goes on and on.

Then there's the operational costs. Just fuel alone will run him about $179 per mile. A one way trip from Moscow to London will set him back a tidy $500,000+. Not that he'll notice much of that, considering that his personal net work is estimated at some $13 billion.

If all of this reeks of excess, remind yourself that someone has to do it!



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