Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. He is also owner of a £1.2 billion air fleet.
It may not come as a surprise that some of the world's most powerful leaders, business tycoons, and monarchs travel by private jets and extravagant aircrafts. However, some have entire fleets at their disposal which, for some, cost up to $1 billion (£786 million).
Air Charter Service, which specialises in charters and private jets for heads of state and high profile individuals, has put together an analysis of the aircrafts owned and used by 13 of the most influential leaders in the world.
Using research from its 20 global offices, the study reveals the fleets heads of state travel with, their estimated value, as well as facts about their interiors and security features.
While some of the world's most powerful certainly opt for the height of luxury, the study shows that not all of the fleets are quite so ostentatious.
From the $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion) fleet of the Qatari royal family to the more modest choices of the General Secretary of China's Communist Party and Xi Jinping, scroll down for a look at the air travel habits of the most powerful leaders, monarchs, and billionaires in the world. The list is ranked in ascending order by estimated cost of their fleet or most expensive aircraft.
The Queen of England, members of the Royal family and Great Britain’s government rely upon the 32nd squadron of the United Kingdom to get around.
These include two AW109 helicopters for travelling distances under 1,000 kilometres, six BAE-125 airplanes with a flight range up to 3,000 kilometres, as well as four mid-sized reactive BAE-146 airplanes. Queen Elizabeth II also has a personal helicopter, Sikorsky S-76 Spirit, as part of the Royal Household.
The total cost of the 32nd squadron fleet of the United Kingdom is estimated to be around $100 million (£78.6 million).
Until recently, the Royal Family leased ordinary Boeing 747s or Boeing 777s from British Airways or Virgin Atlantic for travelling long distances. Currently, the royal family can be transported by Royal Air Force airplanes and helicopters for important events.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has a private jet — an Airbus A340-212 — nicknamed the "Flying Palace." It cost the prince £80 million, and an additional £95 millon to modernise.
Its makeover included the addition of a luxurious cabin decorated with precious metals, gems, and valuable wood, as well as the instalment of the additional fuel tanks, increasing the non-stop flight range of his personal air force to 15,000 kilometres.
There have only been three other aircrafts produced at the size of the A340-212.
The monarch and his family also own a modified Boeing 747-430, a Boeing 767-270, and two Sikorsky S-70 helicopters.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping has a more modest approach to air travel — he does not own a personal aircraft.
The leader of the People’s Republic of China instead uses two Boeing 747-400’s, belonging to Air China, for his government visits and business trips. At the time of construction, each of the planes were worth £195 million.
While both of the airliners are used for regular passenger flights, before the President plans a visit, they are carefully examined by his security service, which can take up to several weeks. They are then refitted with a spacious living room, a bedroom, and an office, then are given back and returned to their original state upon his return.
While a glimpse inside is rare, it is thought that the interior design is "rather austere and far from lavish or luxurious."
King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is considered one of the world’s richest men.
His official aircraft is from state airline Bahrain Royal Flight, with a fleet that currently consists of six aircrafts: A Boeing Business Jet BBJ2, two Boeing 747-400s, a Boeing 767-400ER, a Gulfstream G-IV, and a Bell 430. Each one is intended exclusively for the members of the royal family and high government officials.
The most recent additions to the fleet were the flagship Boeing 767-400ER and a Boeing Business Jet BBJ2.
There is limited information on the interiors, but the passenger deck of the Boeing 767-400ER appears to be divided into two autonomous zones with a separate VIP private living room and a negotiation area.
In the airplane cabin, there are also individual VIP cabins and bedrooms, as well as an operating room on board.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev made official visits to 15 countries (some of them more than once) in 2016, spending 140 hours in the air and travelling over 99,000 kilometres — two and a half times the equator’s circumference.
He travels by the state airline Berkut.
The airline fleet consists of over 10 airplanes and helicopters of various sizes, but not all of them are intended for use by the head of state.
Nursultan Nazarbayev uses one of the specially organised Mil Mi-8 helicopters for harder to reach destinations or shorter trips, while for longer trips (up to 2,500 kilometres), the state airline Berkut offers Bombardier СRJ-200 and Embraer-135 aircraft for presidential use.
The most important aircrafts are the Airbus A320-214 (CJ) Prestige, Airbus A321-211 (CJ), and Airbus A330-243 Prestige, which Nazarbayev reportedly uses for the largest political and economic forums and official state visits.
The cost of his air force, including the cost for the refitment, could be more than £195 million, according to Air Charter Service.
The 32nd squadron of United Kingdom recently acquired its own Airbus A330 for £195 million with the main purpose of carrying the British Prime Minister, who is currently Theresa May, on official government trips.
It has the biggest passenger capacity — 160 people — of all planes on the list. However, compared the the planes of other world leaders, it is pretty ordinary, but has some minor alterations — its refitment, which was apparently in line with the conditions of the economy, cost £15 million. However, the government claims it saves up to £1.5 million on plane charters by having the Airbus.
The Airbus has a small VIP area with two ottoman chairs, as well as sliding curtains which offer some privacy from the rest of the delegation.
It has 58 business class seats — created for ministers and deputies — as well as 100 economy class seats made for journalists.
Former French President François Hollande's elegant and modern Airbus A330-200 cost around £210 million.
It has a management centre, allowing for real-time command of the main governmental bodies and military troops. It also boasts a bedroom with a large bed, a bathroom, a dressing room, a kitchen, an office, a soundproof negotiation room for 12 people, a mini operating room. There is also a space designated for journalists and members of the delegation.
He also had two reactive Dassault Falcons 7Xs, great for both relatively short and transatlantic flights and designed for the shorter airstrips in France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most famous aircraft is an Airbus A340-313X VIP, referred to as the Konrad Adenauer after the first postwar Chancellor of Germany. She also has several other planes at her disposal managed by the German armed forces.
She has an extensive fleet available to her. A Eurocopter AS532 can be used for flights around Germany and other close countries, or for longer flights Merkel has access to four business jets, including a Bombardier Global 5000 valued at around £55 million, and two Airbus A319-133X CJs, each costing more than £115 million.
Both Airbus A340-313X's can accommodate approximately 150 passengers, and boast apartments with showers, bedrooms, offices, a conference hall, and "a completely soundproof room for negotiations."
Merkel's fleet is also equipped with security features like missile defence systems, and additional fuel tanks, allowing for non-stop flights up to 13,500 kilometres — enough to get from Berlin to Washington, Beijing, or Rio de Janeiro.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has a number of airplanes in his personal fleet, including a Boeing 767-33AER.
The inside of the aircraft — which has been drastically modified — has a banquet hall with accommodation for 30 people, a kitchen, an office, and a bedroom with a double bed.
Its decor comprises of "precious metals and fine woods," and it has communication and security features including Abramovich’s own anti-ballistic defence system, the cost of which exceeds $2 million (£1.6 million).
One of the wealthiest people in Russia, businessman Alisher Usmanov owns a business jet Airbus A340-300, the biggest business jet in the Russian Confederation, according to Air Charter Service.
The catalogue value of Alisher Usmanov’s personal air fleet’s flagship is at least $238 million (£187 million). If you consider the cost of the refitment and VIP cabin additions, this could easily exceed $250 million (£196 million), according to Air Charter Service.
Vladimir Putin’s flagship aircraft is the Russian-made IL-96-300PU, a wide-bodied, long-haul airliner. He has four, rather than just one, though this is for security.
When knowledge of one of his flights is made public, all four aircrafts are readied for departure, and the one he is boarding remains unknown until takeoff, when the other three trail behind.
It features an advanced communication system that allows the aircraft to act as a management centre "capable of carrying out the prompt commandment of troops in case of unexpected conflict."
Putin holds the record for the fleet with the largest number of airplanes and helicopters — 68 and 64, respectively.
The white IL-96-300PU is almost 65 metres long with a wingspan over 65 metres. Its cruising speed tops out at 900 kilometres per hour, but it can reach its maximum flight length without refueling.
The cabin is lavish with "tapestries and gold accents," and "neoclassical-style furniture and interiors." It comes complete with a spacious office, bedroom, and fully-equipped gym, as well as a special coating that makes the plane less visible, an automated system of jamming and disorienting radars, and its own anti-aircraft defence system.
Air Charter Service estimated that with the price of the presidential passenger cabin, security measures, communication, and other mod cons on top, the aircraft is valued at around £360 million.
Any aircraft carrying the President of the United States is called Air Force One. For Donald Trump, Air Force one is usually one of two identical customised Boeing 747-200B aircrafts. Each one has been used for more than 25 years, meaning Trump has the oldest personal aircraft on this list.
The Boeing 747 was the first double-decker, long-haul, wide-bodied passenger airplane in the world. Now, it's over 70 metres long with a wingspan of 65 metres and a maximum speed of almost 1,000 kilometres per hour.
It can refuel during flight, serves as a chief government management centre during prolonged flights, and has a "number of secure communication channels including satellite."
At the time of construction, the passenger version of the plane cost $100 million (£78.6 million). With mod cons and improvements, Air Charter Service estimate Trump's plane is now worth $1 billion (£786 million).
With interiors designed by Nancy Reagan, wife of former President Ronald Reagan, the aircraft has an "American Southwest" style.
It boasts a 370 square metre cabin area, and accommodation for the president including a bedroom, bathroom, gym, and offices. It can seat 70 passengers and 26 crew, and has personal space for each of the president's retinue members, and an area for news reporters.
It also has a medical suite that acts as a fully functional operating room.
Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is one of the wealthiest people on the planet, according to Air Charter Service.
He is also owner of a £1.2 billion fleet used by his family. On his official trips, he is accompanied by an entourage of at least 1,000 people including family members, members of the delegation, and service staff. He even travels with limousines to be used in his destination country.
Most of his trips are completed by multiples airplanes — his delegation once arrived in Japan using 10 aircrafts.
When they travel alone, Emir or his family and higher government officials use a separate VIP airline, Qatar Amiri Flight. The VIP fleet was made up of 14 aircrafts at the end of August 2016, each exceeding £80 million.
The Emir also has access to an Airbus A319-100 (CJ), three Airbus A320-200s, two Airbus A330-200s, two Boeing 747-8 BBJs, an Airbus А310-300, an Airbus А340-200, an Airbus А340-300 and Airbus А340-500.
He also occasionally uses a business jet Bombardier Global Express BD-700-1A10 and a military transport airplane, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, for personal use.