Super-rich fly in style

2014-12-28 18:00

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A battle for the megawealthy’s travel dollars began yesterday between one of the world’s leading airlines and charter-flight operators that lease private jets to the super-rich.

Last night, the first flight of Etihad Airways’ new Airbus A380 left Abu Dhabi for London.

South Africans now booking to fly Etihad to London at the end of March can spend the second leg of their flight in the brand-new cabin called The Residence.

The price – R285?532 return – is about four times more than first-class tickets to London from South Africa on Middle Eastern airlines.

This includes a butler, living room, bedroom and en suite bathroom with a shower. You can have your favourite music loaded on to the sound system and a personal menu.

Britain’s Financial Times found in a survey that first-class cabins on commercial jets were now affecting the private-charter market.

It said first class has become so luxurious that the demand has increased by 34% in the past year.

The market for hiring private jets had waned in South Africa, said Mike Christoph, operations manager at Lanseria Airport near Johannesburg, from which most private flights depart.

The airport handles about 2?500 flights a month and the foreign super-rich and celebrities prefer to touch down there in relative privacy.

But there are still those who can afford to fly privately and are ready to fork out big bucks to do so.

“Lobster, blue crab and oysters are the preferred choice, while Champagne and whisky rule supreme,” said Gavin Wilson, MD of Wings Africa Airline Catering, which supplies food for about 90% of Lanseria’s charter flights.

“We regularly import Beluga caviar, while some foreign visitors prefer South Africa’s steak or lamb.”

Wilson and his team have also served pap and meat at 9 000 metres.

“Mopani worms are regularly ordered. Recently, there was even an order for a sheep’s head,” he said.

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