It can take up to two years to outfit a VIP widebody jet. Even the video featuring the Andrew Winch Designs scheme for a Boeing 787 on the Lufthansa Technik (LHT) booth here (No. 1240) took four months to complete. LHT has a widebody slot open in September, but it is already the subject of negotiations and may be taken soon. The next availability is at the end of 2009 and, as EBACE Convention News reported yesterday, the company already has bookings until 2013.
Walter Heerdt, the Hamburg-based MRO’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said Monday’s announcements by Boeing and Airbus of sales of six BBJs and five A318 Elites underlined the fact that the VIP market was reaching new peaks. Reassuringly for customers who have ordered more than 20 Elites, LHT was able to complete the first example in just four months.
In the last year LHT has added the Boeing 747-8 as well as the 787 to its widebody portfolio. Along with the first Elite (the Comlux airplane shown here) it has delivered three Challenger 850s, will get at least 14 more and has five examples of the Bombardier business jet in the works at Hamburg.
The company is working on its 13th 747, a -400, and is preparing for the Airbus A380. To cope with the demand, it plans to open a second widebody completion line in the second half of 2009 and will add a second A318 Elite design so that it can do five or six airplanes per year. The first Elite–“a true Hamburg child,” Heerdt commented, “produced there and outfitted there”–was delivered just 18 months after Airbus and LHT agreed to the program in November 2005.
Winch, who was at the show, designs yachts and houses as well as airplane interiors for his clients. He said the yachts typically cost three times as much as houses while airplanes cost 10 times as much to outfit.
Typically, he said, an airplane interior costs $65,000 per square meter, compared with $14,000 to $19,000 per square meter for a yacht. That means north of $25 million for a Boeing Business Jet–and the 747-8 has six times the floor area of a BBJ. In fact, a BBJ’s cabin would fit in the upper deck of the new 747 variant.
Like VIP jets, yachts are getting bigger, he said. “Five years from now I expect yachts to be twice the size they are now, just as the airplanes will be six times the size.
“We launched a 130-meter yacht this year, we have another of 80 meters launching next year and we’re delivering a 60-meter one in France tomorrow.”