A 37-year-old jet owned by Qatar’s ruling family has been put on the market, allowing potential buyers – and curious everyday folk – a glimpse of its luxurious interior, which includes a gold and blue bathroom, a large dining/meeting room and an opulent double bedroom.
Over the past several years, VP-BAT, a private Boeing 747, was regularly seen parked at the airport. It sports unusual livery that features Qatar’s emblem – two crossed swords, a dhow and a palm tree.
The aircraft was purchased by Qatar’s ruling family from United Airlines in 1995.
It had been flying passengers to and from the US since 1979, when it was bought new by its first airline, Pan Am.
After buying it two decades ago, the Al Thani family set about transforming the jet’s interior from the standard commercial passenger layout into its current VIP set up.
The plane includes, according to the online advertisement, “various meeting rooms, staterooms, offices, dining areas etc.”
The ad said the aircraft is also being sold with two spare engines, four spare wheels, wifi capability and individual DVD players.
The agents selling the plane, Book A Jet, said that the aircraft has been “meticulously maintained” by its current owners, and that buying it would be a “unique opportunity,” as VIP jets like these rarely come on the market.
No price is listed in the ad, and due to its unusual interior and relatively low flying hours for its age, it’s difficult to estimate the value of VP-BAT.
However, a 1992 Boeing 747 also currently listed on Controller.com is being advertised for US$26 million.
Book a Jet invites interested parties to “make an offer,” adding that buyers will be “very surprised by what superb value this aircraft is considering its pedigree, condition and available extras.”
The company did not respond to requests for comment.
VP-BAT’s “Head of State” configuration has 12 First Class seats, 18 Business Class seats and 31 “Tourist Class” seats.
Photos of the aircraft’s interior show:
- A spacious gold and blue bathroom, complete with armchair;
- A large dining/meeting room, with chairs arranged around a long table, with paintings of armed men riding camels on the walls; and
- A chrome-inlaid spiral staircase leading to the airplane’s upper deck, which contains comfortable business-class style seats.
Although the aircraft is painted in Qatari colors, VP-BAT does not seem to be a full-fledged member of Qatar’s Amiri Flight, the Amiri Diwan’s private airline.
Most Amiri Flight aircraft are painted with the standard Qatar Airways livery, and their registration numbers begin with A7, denoting a Qatar registration, rather than VP-BAT’s, which is registered in Bermuda.
Online records reveal that the aircraft has been based at Bournemouth in the south of the UK for the past 10 years.
From here, it has made fairly frequent flights to Doha, Zurich and Paris.
Although exact ownership of the aircraft cannot be confirmed, it is widely rumored to have been used by former Emir Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani, grandfather to Qatar’s current leader.
The plane was purchased the same year that Sheikh Khalifa was deposed by his son, the Father Emir.
Two more Boeing 747s
The Qatari royal family may be saying goodbye to VP-BAT, but they still operate two private Boeing 747s – both new 747-800s, the newest incarnation of the double-decked jet.
The first of these was delivered by Boeing in 2012. Here’s some footage of one of these aircraft,VQ-BSK, taking off from Bournemouth airport in January last year.