Prince Alwaleed sells A380 flying palace

Saudi billionaire sells yet to be delivered Airbus for undisclosed price to unknown buyer
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Massoud A. Derhally
Sun 17 Feb 2013 10:36 AM

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal last year sold his yet to be delivered Airbus A380, dubbed 'the flying palace', the chief financial officer of his Kingdom Holding Company said.

"It was sold in the second half of last year," Shadi Sanbar said in an interview with Arabian Business, declining to say to whom the plane was sold and for what amount.

"We can't disclose any details what so ever because of confidentiality agreements we have with the parties," Sanbar said.

Alwaleed, 57, who already owns a Boeing 747-400 which he paid about US$220m for, bought the A380 double-decker in 2007 when it sold for about US$319m at list prices. However, after the outfitting of the aircraft was completed the estimated value of the superjumbo would have been more than US$500m.

The superjumbo was supposed to have a layout that accommodates two Rolls-Royce cars and a number of horses. The A380 is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines that provide a combined thrust of 72,000 lbf, allowing the plane fly a top speed of Mach 0.96 or 1,020 kmh, with a maximum service ceiling of 43,028 feet. The aircraft's commercial configuration has a passenger capacity for 525 people, which increases to 853 in an all economy class mode.

When contacted by Arabian Business, Habib Fekih, the president of Airbus MENA, declined to comment about the sale of the prince's A380 and would not provide any information on whether there are other customers in the Arab world operating the plane as a private jet.

In addition to the Boeing 747, Alwaleed also owns a Hawker jet and a Airbus A321. The prince's New Kingdom 5KR, when completed in 2014, will cost more than US$500m and be the third largest yacht in the world. Alwaleed's existing 5KR was bought from Donald Trump in 1991.

Alwaleed, nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, owns 95 percent of Kingdom Holding, which he chairs. He is the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup, also holding stakes in News Corp, EuroDisney, Apple, Time Warner and 4 percent of Twitter as well other investments in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world. The prince retains 47.5 percent of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and fully owns the George V hotel in Paris and the Savoy in London.

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