For those that love the luxury of first class air travel but loathe the imposition of having to share it with others, Emirates thinks it has the aircraft for you.
The Dubai-based airline is aiming for the high-end business traveler with a new luxury private jet service. Launched this week, Emirates Executive is a bijou and bespoke version of its premium product in a dedicated Airbus A319. It can be chartered by individuals, groups or corporations through the website. Qatar Airways and Korean Air are two commercial airlines that offer a similar executive jet chartering service.
"We have seen an increasing demand in the private travel segment, especially in the Middle East and Europe as well as in markets such as India, Russia and China," said Adnan Kazim, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President for Planning, Aeropolitical & Industry Affairs.
"We are looking to tap into this niche market with the high quality of service and attention to detail."
The Emirates Executive Airbus A319 can accommodate 19 people, with the plane divided into two main zones.
Patricia Wu explores China's growing market for private jets and whether customers think it's a valuable investment.
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The front of the aircraft has a dining area and executive lounge designed to seat 12 people. Mechanically activated tables can be raised in front of two large sofas, while one of 1,500 channels of in-flight entertainment can be watched on two 42-inch LCD screens.
The rear of the aircraft has ten private suites -- similar to the ones found in Emirates' First Class cabins. Live TV, video conferencing facilities and high speed internet and mobile phone connectivity are also available on board.
Passengers with an appetite can have specially prepared meals served on board by Emirates crew, while a full-height shower with heated floor is available for those who need refreshment after all that exhausting pampering.
While the world's super-rich may still be able afford their own private aircrafts, the chartering of executive jets is a growing market. It's certainly a more affordable option than buying a large private jet outright; an Airbus ACJ318 (similar to the Emirates Executive A319) or long-range Gulfstream G650 costs around $65 million from the respective manufacturers.
While it took a big hit after the global recession that began in 2008, the private jet market is on the rise. According to forecasts by Canadian private jet manufacturer Bombardier, the industry is expected to exceed pre-2008 levels for the delivery of new jets by next year. North America, with around 40% of the market, remains the biggest destination for private executive travel but the largest growth is expected to come from emerging regions in Latin American and Asia. Although hampered by lack of airspace and facilities, in the coming years China is expected to see a 15% increase in number of private jets flying in its skies, according to Bombardier.
The sector is worth $626 billion to manufactures like Embraer, Bombardier and Gulfstream. Boeing and Airbus produce executive iterations of their planes, including the 747 and A380.
David Velupillai, marketing director of executive and private aviation for Airbus says that their jets -- from A318s to superjumbo A380s -- can be fitted out according to their clients' needs.
"We can do features which the Chinese market particularly appreciates, such as a large round table which is the focus of Asian life. We can do Karaoke bars," he said.