Billionaires Still Buying Up Oversize, Ostentatious Private Planes

Economic crisis? Puhlease.

According to the January issue of Overhaul & Maintenance, extraordinarily deep-pocketed Americans are still buying up large luxury jets, particularly narrowbody and widebody models, like the Airbus A318 Elite, whose current list price is $62 million.

“If you can afford to spend $62 million or more on an aircraft, then you are probably a billionaire, or well on the way to becoming one,” David Velupillai, product marketing director of executive and private aviation for Airbus, told the magazine.

And apparently, there are still plenty of them floating around. Indeed, Velupillai says there’s so much demand for widebody planes — the kind whose lavish living room areas, bedrooms, and bathrooms can make a weary billionaire feel right at home 30,000 feet in the sky — that he recommends ordering such VIP aircraft now for 2012.

Where the private jet industry is suffering? In sales of smaller business jets, which cost less, and typically sell to lowly millionaires rather than billionaires.

Smaller business jet manufacturers are “more likely to be affected” by the downturn, says Velupillai.