Call them castles in the sky. Wealthy Chinese no longer hesitate to drop millions on what they deem to be the most perfect way to travel by air: customized jets and helicopters.
“Last year, we sold four Boeing business jets. Among which three were sold to China, all to individual buyers,” said Li Bing, sales director at Boeing Business Jets. Jet manufacturers have seen a boon after enabling buyers to customize the interiors of their jets. One customer settled for nothing less than a makeshift European palace, but there are other options.
“We can do a round table for six. Because the round table is the centre of Asian family life, but we can also convert that table into a square which is better for playing mahjong and other games. We can even do a karaoke bar,” said David Velupillai, marketing director at Airbus Corporate Jets.
The most blasé jet costs around $10 million, while the prestigious Airbus ACJ318 runs up the bill at $68 million, before maintenance and fuel, of course.
Eurocopter China has also seen increased orders, thanks in part to their collaborations with Hermes and Mercedes Benz to design chic copters with room for handy golf club storage. “Our model can accommodate eight VIP passengers in a very luxurious environment. The colour is very auspicious in the Chinese mood, red colour,” Bruno Boulnois, CEO of Eurocopter China, said.
Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Hurun Report, is not surprised. He said, “They just want the best. Like if they buy a car, they are going to buy a Rolls-Royce or Bentley. You got to have one in your collection if you are over a certain status. Rolls-Royce sells a thousand units a year. I am sure it is not going to be long before we sell out at least a hundred jets a year as well.”
photo credit: boeing