Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has redefined the concept of luxury travel as it unveiled this week a redesigned high-end aircraft cabin — a three-room private suite with its own living room, a double bedroom, ensuite shower and a personal butler.
Located in the upper deck of the carrier’s Airbus A380 aircraft, this fancy travel experience, branded “The Residence by Etihad”, will come at a price of US$21,000 for the Abu Dhabi to London route, three to four times as much a regular first-class seat. The company is, however, confident that it will have many takers.
With the ranks of the nouveau riche rapidly swelling in China, mainland airlines can consider taking a page from the Mideast carrier and go for the top-end market to generate some extra cash, which should help address their tepid profitability amid soft cargo business and a weakening renminbi.
David Velupillai, director of marketing for Airbus Executive and Private Aviation, told the Apple Daily that China has become the fastest growing private jet market.
However, priced at about US$70 million to US$110 million, excluding costs of maintenance, crew and fuel, Airbus has only sold about 20 private jets so far in the country since 2005.
For those mainland elites that cannot afford their own private jet, an offering such as Etihad’s Residence would be an attractive alternative.
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