Even within the exclusive world of private aviation, class distinctions still exist. There are those that fly private and those that fly on large converted executive airliners.
If you have ever wondered what it might be like to have a supersized private jet all to yourself then keep reading, because AeroTime had the chance to experience this on board a Qatar Executive A319 ACJ at the 2023 Paris Air Show.
Both Airbus and Boeing have entire divisions devoted to the development and marketing of VIP versions of their most popular airliner families.
Airbus, for example, has developed “ACJ” versions (which stands for “Airbus Corporate Jet”) of the A330, A350 and A320 family of aircraft, including the A319 ACJ.
In the past, Airbus had even offered an ACJ version of its giant A380 double-decker, but all orders were cancelled before they could become a reality.
The latest addition to join the Airbus family of corporate jets is the executive version of the A220 airliner, which entered service in the first half of 2023 and the manufacturer has branded as “ACJ TwoTwenty”.
Boeing uses a similar acronym “BBJ” (“Boeing Business Jet”) for the executive derivatives of its own airliners.
Billionaires, large corporations, and heads of government and of state are among the regular users of large private jets, whether owning the aircraft outright or renting them on demand from specialized service providers such as Global Jet, Comlux or, in this particular case, Qatar Executive, the executive aviation arm of Qatar Airways.
The A319 ACJ can theoretically seat up to 39 passengers, although most are configured to carry a much smaller number. It is not unusual to see fewer than 19 passengers in the same space where a regular airline may be able to fit 160 seats.
In this apex category of the industry, aircraft interiors are a main point of differentiation, with the wider and larger cabins enabling a whole range of features, from master bedrooms to luxurious spacious bathrooms, that would not be out of place in a luxury hotel.
Befitting such a high-end product, ACJ cabin interiors can be customized to match the needs of the customer or operator.
Qatar Executive received its first A319 ACJ back in 2016 and currently has two of the type in its fleet.
Thanks to its 3,000nm range, the Airbus A319CJ can fly nonstop routes such as Doha (DOH) to London or London to New York.
The aircraft visited by AeroTime holds the registration A7-HHJ and is made available for rental. The airline’s other aircraft of the other type is equipped and often used as a VIP ambulance.
In 2019, the cabin of this particular A319 ACJ received a complete interior and exterior refurbishment to add a private bedroom, along with seating for up to 19 passengers.
The cabin has been divided into three clearly differentiated sections.
Right upon boarding the aircraft you come across the master bedroom, fitted with a king-size bed and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
Next comes a work and dining area, with two solid large tables situated on either side of the aisle, each seating four people.
And at the back of the cabin is the seating area, with eight business class-style seats, all of which can also be turned into lie-flat beds.
“Our typical passengers are large families wishing to travel together, along with government and corporate organizations utilizing the aircraft for company travel,” a source at Qatar Executive explained when contacted by AeroTime.
In addition to the two A319 ACJs, Qatar Executive also operates a fleet of 15 Gulfstream G650s and two Bombardier Global 5000s in its fleet.
The Qatari operator also has 10 of the new Gulfstream G700 on order, the first of which, already fitted in the operator’s signature livery and cabin interior, was on display at the Paris Air Show, where it was visited by the firm’s chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker.
The Gulfstream G700 is currently undergoing its certification process and it is expected to enter service before the end of 2023.