Imagine boarding a plane and stepping into a “cocoon-like” private bedroom fitted with a king-size bed, and a bathroom featuring the largest rain and massage shower ever built on an aircraft, which can merge with the sleeping quarters to form a self-contained retreat, providing total privacy.
That’s the centerpiece of Lufthansa Technik’s new cabin design for the upcoming BBJ 777-9 — the private jet version of Boeing’s new widebody aircraft, the 777X. Called CelestialSTAR, the design takes full advantage of the plane’s extremely spacious cabin, which offers 343 square meters (about 3,700 square feet) of space and pairs with the aircraft’s ability to stay in the air for 22 hours — which means it could connect any two cities in the world without stopovers, according to Boeing.
But with the combined price of the plane plus the custom interior easily exceeding half a billion dollars, this will be a luxury for the very few. Lufthansa Technik, which is the engineering and maintenance arm of Germany’s flag carrier, says that the concept, which was unveiled this week at the Dubai Airshow, primarily targets customers from royal families in the Middle East.
That’s why the design incorporates traditional patterns and influences from the region’s cultural heritage. “It’s a combination between a Middle Eastern touch and a very modern, sleek design,” says Hassan Gasim, a sales director at Lufthansa Technik. “It’s a combination of the old and the new world and this region is famous for that — it values the traditions of the past, but is also very confident about the future.”
Other features include a “work & balance” area next to the bedroom and bathroom, fitted with rotating and sliding seats, which passengers can use around large desks but can also turn and move towards the divans off to the side for conversations and meetings. The room comes with “trapezoidal wall niches,” which can be used as displays or exhibits, and then closed to become invisible within the wall structure.
The large dining area, Lufthansa says, functions as a “majlis” — the traditional Middle Eastern gathering and meeting room — and offers 11 individual seats and features such as monitors that can be fully retracted into the table. The second half of the cabin has six deluxe suites for guests or a delegation, and there are 32 additional seats in the executive area, equivalent to business class seating. At the back end of the fuselage there’s still space for an Entourage Area, similar to a premium economy cabin.
The long-awaited 777X, the world’s largest twin-engine jet, is expected to enter service in 2025, so this concept exists purely on paper for now. But Lufthansa, which will be among the first airlines to operate the type, says the concept is based on the aircraft’s actual specifications, which means it can become a reality should a customer place an order for it.
Gasim says Lufthansa Technik has fitted out over 150 Boeing BBJs of various models, but because of confidentiality agreements, it’s never been able to show the work publicly. “So that’s why we’ve come up with those conceptual designs, to show what is actually possible and have a base for discussion,” he says.
At the Dubai Airshow, potential customers and curious attendees could experience the designs in virtual reality. For the real thing, the wait is a bit longer. “It takes quite a while to actually put such an aircraft together,” says Clemens Schrettl, also a sales director at Lufthansa Technik, “So I would say the first ones will be delivered to customers in 2027 or 2028.”
According to Schrettl, the business jet version of the 777X will be in high demand in the GCC area, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He says there are more than 30 747s in the region flying as private jets, adding, “I’m sure it’s going to be even more than that for the 777X.”
The cost to fit one out with the CelestialSTAR cabin will be between $130 and $160 million, he says, plus the price of the aircraft itself, which is about $450 million.
More than private jets
The Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) range was developed in the late 1990s to produce dedicated corporate jets based on the Boeing 737, explains Gary Crichlow, an aviation analyst at consulting firm AviationValues. “Boeing then began offering a BBJ variant across all of its models, including widebodies,” he says. “The BBJ line is primarily aimed at ultra-high net worth individuals and heads of state.”
Information on buyers and sale prices is rarely disclosed, for privacy reasons, he adds. “The completion price is purely down to the imagination and budget of the customer,” says Crichlow. “It’s a specialist project in and of itself. Once the design is finalized, the actual fitout of the interior is not done by Boeing; after delivery of the aircraft, it is ferried to one of several specialist completion centers that are licensed to carry out the work.”
Boeing has produced over 250 BBJs to date, and currently offers models based on the 737 MAX, the 787 and the upcoming 777X. The vast majority of the BBJ fleet is made up of narrowbody aircraft, according to Syed Zaidi, a consultant at aviation analytics firm Cirium.
The widebody BBJ family is very limited, Zaidi adds, with around 20 aircraft in service and nearly all of them in a national government or head of state role.
They also come with high environmental costs, as private jets emit 10 times more pollutants than commercial planes per passenger.
The Boeing 777X was one of the stars of the Dubai Airshow, where it performed a flight demonstration. Among the biggest deals at the airshow, the Emirates airline, which had already ordered 105 777Xs prior to the event, signed up for an additional 90, bringing its total to 205. It also ordered another 35 787s, and 15 Airbus A350s.