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Transforming an A330 into a luxury yacht-like experience

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that sheds light on some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In June, we’ll take to the skies to learn about the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people working to change the way we fly.

(CNN) — The fact that the mega-rich go to great lengths to customize their private jets to suit their lifestyle is nothing new.

And we’re not just talking about your average business jet. For decades, world leaders, royalty and billionaires have flown the types of planes most of us use for business, made by Airbus and Boeing.

But the options on the table are getting crazier and crazier.

Among the leaders in the customization game is Germany’s Lufthansa Technik, which recently developed a cabin concept that’s inspired by another must-have item for the wealthy: the superyacht.

According to the company, the EXPLORER wide-body VIP cabin concept fulfills two wishes of aircraft owners: to take their aircraft almost anywhere at any time, while serving as a base camp when traveling – a place to sleep and also enjoy leisure. activities and outings.

Just like a superyacht.

The Lufthansa Technik team chose the Airbus A330 to showcase the concept and released a series of renders demonstrating the possibilities.

These include the usual must-haves like bedrooms, bathrooms, bars, and dining rooms. But the highlight is arguably the retractable verandah – a floor in the forward fuselage area that can extend outward when the plane is parked, sitting at a height of around four meters above the apron.

Next comes a large-scale integrated projection system for virtual content. It extends from the window sash to the ceiling. Customers can select their own lighting and images, using a high-tech projection system to create scenes such as verdant forests and starry skies.

The BRABUS Adventure Lounge

The BRABUS Adventure Lounge: A place to store toys.

The BRABUS Adventure Lounge: A place to store toys.

Coutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

The EXPLORER concept was first launched in November 2021, and the company recently showcased a new addition at an aviation convention in Geneva in May – the BRABUS Adventure Lounge.

The concept places the lounge in the aft part of the lower deck of the A330, visible from the main deck through a glass floor.

Again, the superyacht, with its garage for tenders and toys, was the inspiration. A selection of vehicles can be stored in the Adventure Lounge for use after landing.

The concept includes a BRABUS 1300 R limited edition, created in collaboration with Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM.

Wieland Timm, sales manager for VIP and special mission aircraft at Lufthansa Technik, told CNN Travel via email that the show presents only “a vivid example of what this aspect of exploration could look like.” in flight.

“The luxury motorcycles are exclusively staged in the accessible lower deck,” he explains. “Once disembarked, they can be unloaded and give passengers the freedom to explore the current destination in more detail.”

As to why Lufthansa Technik selected the A330 for the EXPLORER concept, Timm says that this classic jumbo jet “offers enough space for a lot of innovative cabin ideas and also enough range to meet special wishes. of the EXPLORER target group”.

However, he notes that an EXPLORER-like interior could also be installed in other wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

Who shows interest?

Timm says the target group for the EXPLORER concept is made up of “rather ‘classic’ ultra-wealthy individuals traveling and exploring the world in the utmost luxury and – above all – privacy, but also high-class charter operators. luxury travel (for example offering 14-day world tours in a price range of 100,000 to 200,000 dollars per week).

He says they also expect some owners to take a hybrid approach.

“For example, a high net worth individual who owns an EXPLORER aircraft, but only uses it one month per year. The rest of the year, this individual will also charter it to other operators/users.”

Artist's rendering of the terrace.

Artist’s rendering of the terrace.

Coutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, he says, noting that they have already received inquiries from customers looking to implement one or more of the EXPLORER’s technical gadgets into their construction completion projects. current or future cabin.

He notes that an aircraft owner is unlikely to adopt the entire concept as a whole, but given that it is technically feasible, the cabin could be produced as shown. Instead, customers are likely to adapt certain design elements to suit their own needs.

“The simple reason is that the VIP Completions business, particularly for widebody aircraft, is very individual to meet the personal needs of the owner…The vast majority of aircraft we complete for our customers are therefore truly unique.”

How close is it to that superyacht experience?

Since superyachts have a lot more freedom in terms of mooring and mobility, we asked Timm how common it is for owners to spend the night in their plane while it’s grounded at an airport.

He says various airports will allow them to park their plane and virtually “live” there for a period of time.

“Some of our customers are already using it,” he adds. “The reasons are various and relate to the fact that these customers often also use the aircraft as office space and thus receive their customers on site.

“Others prefer to stay on the plane overnight for safety reasons. In the EXPLORER use case described, however, the airport acts as a home base and jumping off point for further adventures/explorations .”

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