Saudi prince buys A380 superjumbo

Paris: Airbus on Monday announced Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Tala (world's 13th-richest man) as the first private buyer of an A380 superjumbo, the world's largest passenger airliner.

The prospective buyer's identity had been kept secret for months but was unveiled to coincide with the Dubai air show.

Prince Alwaleed, whose interests span Kingdom Holding to Euro Disney, hotels and banking, has ordered a VIP version of the A380, dubbed the "Flying Palace". He already owns a Boeing 747-400, the newest of the original jumbo jet currently in service.

The bigger Airbus superjumbo has been hit by production delays but entered service with Singapore Airlines last month. It can seat 525 passengers in three classes or more than 800 in an alleconomy layout by using less space between seats. Leg room will not be a problem on the ‘Flying Palace,' which fea tures 551 sq metres of usable floor space on twin passenger decks enough for a couple of tennis courts.

The ordinary passenger edition sells for over $300 million but the price of the special-edition aircraft was not disclosed. The A380 can be fitted with cocktail bars, casinos, showers and sleeping quarters.

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