Before fans of the B747 get too excited by the headline I must stress that it is the governments of several Gulf states, rather than their national carriers, who have ordered this latest version of the jumbo.
Sadly it is not expected to see passenger service with the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and so on.
Airline manufacturers do not like to discuss private orders for their large planes. Officially the VIP customers for the B747-8 are “unnamed” but according to flightglobal.com a total of four of these very special B747-8s will be delivered to the governments of Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and another UAE state.
German aviation website airliners.de reports that the first plane destined for the Government of Qatar (the plane’s registration provides the clue as to the purchaser) has been delivered to the firm carrying out the VIP configuration. Delivery to Qatar is expected to take place in 2014.
In VIP layout, the B747-8 will accommodate up to 100 passengers which will provide it with a long range of over 16,000km.
A big selling point for governments’ use of the B747-8 is its ability to operate at almost all airports around the world which currently handle the existing B747s.
Report by Alex McWhirter