x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Royal Jet's 'five-star flying hotel' returns to Abu Dhabi skies after facelift

Royal Jet's revamped Boeing Business Jet for VIPs now features ostrich skin covered seatbacks and luxury beds

The Boeing Business Jet of Abu Dhabi's Royal Jet has undergone a $9 million transformation. Photo courtesy Royal Jet
The Boeing Business Jet of Abu Dhabi's Royal Jet has undergone a $9 million transformation. Photo courtesy Royal Jet

A "five-star flying hotel" has returned to the skies after a US$9 million upgrade.

The Boeing Business Jet, known to crew and customers as A6-AIN, is back carrying out corporate and VIP charters for Royal Jet in time for what is expected to be the Abu Dhabi-based private plane operator's busiest summer yet.

The jet, which costs $17,000 to $18,000 an hour to hire, boasts a spacious en suite bedroom, ostrich skin-covered seat backs and a hand-woven carpet.

"It's been refurbished to a standard that you would expect to find in the presidential suite of the Savoy in London," said Shane O'Hare, the president and chief executive of Royal Jet, which marked its 10th anniversary last month.

"It lends itself to an Arabic flavour but […it also] has to appeal to a very large audience because we fly VIPs from many countries all over the world, so we paid a lot of attention to globalising the design," he added.

Edése Doret Industrial Design, a New York aircraft interiors consultancy, drew up plans for the refurbishment, to create a "more modern and contemporary interior, furnishings of the highest quality, luxury seats and sleeper beds".

The upgrade was carried out by Sabena technics at a "VIP completion centre" in Bordeaux, France. The company was also responsible for aircraft maintenance and an in-flight entertainment upgrade.

The jet has already been out on three flights since it returned to service last week and is now booked up until at least Ramadan.

Summer is the private jet operator's busiest period, and the company is predicting a 6 per cent rise in business this season.

"The peak will fall starting from the second two weeks of Ramadan all the way through until about the middle of September," said Mr O'Hare.

"We are comfortably ahead of our targets for the year and we are very pleased that the growth we have forecast is materialising. Our reputation is the best it has ever been right now," he added.

Royal Jet's nine aircraft include the world's largest BBJ fleet with six planes.

The company is jointly owned by the Presidential Flight Authority and Abu Dhabi Aviation and is chaired by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak.