For billionaires only: inside Airbus's private jet

If you're a mere millionaire, then don't even think about sampling this luxury accommodation.

In the main lounge, there are cream-coloured leather seats and couches with scatter pillows, a soft-pile beige carpet to sink your bare feet into, and polished tables and sideboards done in woodgrain.

The trimmings include red roses in vases and champagne on ice. Small lamps on coffee tables provide an intimate glow.

Our market is to billionaires, not millionaires.

At opposite ends of the lounge there are large wall-mounted television screens and there's a dining table big enough for a family dinner.

Moving along, there's a private bedroom with a double bed made up with a scrumptious quilt where you can lie back and watch a movie on another wall-mounted screen, or quietly read on a three-seater sofa next to the bed.

Next to the bedroom is a private study.

The bathroom is opulent. It has sparkling gold taps and a big shower.

Music is piped throughout and the windows – with views to die for – have electronic blinds.

This is not a plush mansion in Toorak or Potts Point, but an Airbus ACJ319 corporate jet, sold to billionaires, governments and corporations wanting to make an impression.

"Yes, our market is to billionaires, not millionaires," Airbus marketing director David Velupillai confirms.


There is a whisper that a new model of the plane is being built with a bowling alley, emphasising that it is one of the largest corporate jets on the market, with a cabin height of 2.25 metres and a width of 3.7 metres.

The ACJ319 jet has landed in Australia for the first time and is open for inspection (by appointment only) at the Avalon Air Show this week.

When it is fitted out as a commercial airliner, it can seat 124 passengers but the corporate version on the tarmac at Avalon is built for just 19 people and includes a lounge, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and washrooms.

"The people buying these planes are not after the exotic," Mr Velupillai says.

"They want to take what they are used to in their homes or offices into the air. As you can imagine, a billionaire is going to spend a bit of money having a nice office and home, so they want to duplicate that kind of lifestyle in the air."

The cabins on the Airbus corporate jets – which come up against stiff competition from Gulf Stream, Bombardier and Boeing – are not stock standard in any sense of the word. They are customised to the individual needs of buyers to accommodate a small group or a government delegation. There has even been one un-named buyer who put in a long bar.

Fully fitted, the ACJ319 is $US87 million and there is at least one Australian buyer.

"I can name that Australian buyer as being Skytraders (a specialist in charter flights) but I can't even say if there are others. Our clients prefer to be discreet.

"I can say, though, that we have other customers in the Asia/Pacific and we have sold 25 to 30 in the region, most of the sales in China."

Last year, Airbus sold nine corporate jets around the world for total worldwide sales of 170. "The market is very challenging right now because of the tight economic conditions," Mr Velupillai says.

If you can't afford to spend $87 million on a pair of wings, there is an option to charter the plane.

"To take it from here to Sydney with 19 people will cost about the same as a first-class ticket per person," Mr Velupillai says.