>FIRST, a flying casino. Now, a flying hotel? Airbus is exploring the possibility of turning its A380, the world's biggest commercial plane, into a hotel for the well-heeled.
Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said yesterday it was in discussions with several individuals who wanted to use the A380 as a private jet.
"You're looking at something that is your hotel and your entertainment facility as well," said Mr Leahy, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow.
The plane could well contain an onboard chef, bedrooms, state rooms and a pub, he added.
He said: "You could fly to a destination and invite your guests to come to a business meeting in your conference room."
While he did not name any potential buyer, Mr Leahy said there were more enquiries than expected. Last year, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal became the first private buyer when he ordered an A380 as a flying palace.
As for the flying casino, Airbus is now in talks with several casino operators, on how it would actually work.
"We have to think through the logistics of how many people would be standing. We're certainly capable of building one for a casino operator... They seem to be quite interested in it. I think it's more in the Asian market right now, and they would probably try it first." he said.
Mr Leahy did not name any customers yesterday, but Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson had said he wanted to fit the airline's A380s with casinos when the aircraft was unveiled in 2005.