Forget partying on the ground: the super-rich are being told to do it at 33,000ft by a multimillionaire Dubai hotelier launching a £10,000-an-hour “five-star party jet”.
Kabir Mulchandani, the founder and chair of the luxury hotel group FIVE, has bought a Airbus ACJ TwoTwenty and claims to have transformed it into a “boundary-breaking fusion of hospitality and private aviation”, complete with dancing area, king-size bed and shower.
The jet, which can host up to 16 people, is available to rent for $13,000 (£10,300) to £14,000 an hour. The company said flying the $80m plane, called 9H-FIVE, from London to Dubai, could cost £4,000 a person if 16 people booked it together.
The private jet industry is coming under increasing pressure over its emissions. Although private jet travel makes up just 4% of the global aviation market, it produces about 10 times as much greenhouse gas per passenger, according to academic research. Another recent study labelled the UK the private jet capital of Europe, with a private jet setting off from Britain every six minutes.
Aloki Batra, the chief executive of FIVE hotels and resorts, said the jet had been used in recent days by a famous professional footballer to fly from the Middle East to Madrid, and the company had accepted at least six bookings over coming months.
Asked about the identity of the player, Batra said: “I’m not giving you names, but you know it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out who the audience will be at that price point.”
Batra said another customer had booked the jet for a two-week “island-hopping” tour of the Caribbean. “If you want to really do it in style, and you want to go see five or six islands … I guess you can do all of the Caribbean in two weeks with your own plane and you can do two nights in every place and it’s very convenient,” he said of the unnamed customer’s trip.
“I’m not here to determine why people are doing that, but there are advantages of private aviation and then with us you get so much more.”
Batra said hiring the FIVE jet was about 20-30% more expensive than hiring a traditional private business jet. “But with our plane, it’s got a bedroom, it’s got a shower, it’s got ample space for 16 people. [It’s got] sound and lights, so you know you could have a lot of fun up there while you’re travelling.”
He described his customer base as people who are “obviously really rich” and who want to “enjoy the money while they’re still alive”.
Batra said the company had been approached with some “crazy requests”, including “a guy who wanted to pay $70,000 just to go up and propose to his girlfriend”. That booking was declined.
He said buying the jet had been “too expensive” for the plan not to work, adding: “Obviously there’s a lot of method to the so-called madness, but the reaction is super positive –we’ve had an overwhelming amount of inquiries and already a lot of bookings.”
Asked about the impact of the jet on the climate crisis, he claimed that an investment the company made in a conservation project in Borneo would give the firm enough carbon credits to make up for the emissions generated by up to 500 hours of flying time this year.
Climate emissions from private aviation have increased by nearly a quarter since the pandemic, when flying of all types almost ceased in many countries for an extended period.
“For us, it’s all about sustainable indulgence,” Batra said. “People are going to indulge, but as long as you’re conscious of your carbon footprint and you do something to mitigate that.”