VIP Dreamliner: Crystal Luxury Air Sells Its Boeing 787-8

Crystal Air has sold its VIP Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for the bargain-basement price of US$25 million. Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, has offloaded the plane to Resorts World Las Vegas, a company belonging to the Genting Group.

One of the few times N947BA took to the air. Photo: Comlux

A largely unloved and unwanted Dreamliner

Crystal only picked up the plane from Boeing in 2017. The plane was originally meant to fly only 52 passengers on high-end around-the-world jaunts. Instead, before delivery, Crystal opted for the bog-standard 262 passenger two-cabin configuration.

By the delivery date, the luxury cruise operator had decided not to use the Dreamliner at all, saying it did not “strategically align” with Crystal’s future fleet needs. In a further slapdown for the brand new aircraft, Crystal said it was not luxe enough for their clientele.

Instead, Crystal opted to stick with its Boeing 777-200LR Crystal Skye (P4-XTL) and a Bombardier Global Express XRS (also sold to Resorts World Las Vegas in June 2021).

After Crystal took delivery of the Dreamliner (N947BA) it went straight into the Boeing maintenance storage program. Crystal doesn’t fly or maintain their planes themselves. Instead, Swizterland-based Comlux Management handles that job.

Since delivery, the Dreamliner has racked up just 30 flying hours and 20 landings. Before discounts, the fly away list price for a Boeing 787-8 is US$248.3 million. Paperwork filed following the recent sale indicated the Dreamliner had a carrying value of the aircraft of approximately US$61.9m. A sale price of US$25 million means a US$37 million loss for Genting Hong Kong.

“This purchase opens up new opportunities for the resort’s potential and existing luxury customers, as well as large groups and premium mass segments seeking easy and exclusive travel options, offering an amenity not currently available in the marketplace,” Resorts World Las Vegas told Seatrade Cruise News.

The business class cabin of N947BA. Photo: Comlux

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Dreamliner never a good fit for Crystal

Like rivals Four Seasons, Captains Choice, and Abercrombie and Kent, Crystal has built a niche offering luxury charters and bespoke itineraries using specially configured jets. Unlike their competitors, Crystal owned its jets rather than wet leasing them.

While Crystal’s airline product might be at the other end of the spectrum from easyJet or Frontier, closed borders and travel restrictions have also curbed its business and impacted it financially.

Genting Hong Kong said they sold the Dreamliner because they wanted to dispose of non-core assets and improve their liquidity.

The largely unloved Dreamliner might find itself more at home at Resorts World Las Vegas. The jet’s standard Dreamliner configuration was always a bad fit for Crystal. Their Boeing 777 seats just 88 guests and sells itself as a cruise in the sky experience. That’s the polar opposite of the squeezy 3-3-3 configuration on their now-former 787-8 Dreamliner.

The main cabin of N947BA (pictured) was hardly consistent with Crystal’s luxe marketing. Photo: Comlux

But flying in planeloads of junketeers or conference-bound passengers to Las Vegas is an altogether different mission and something the Dreamliner could potentially do well. Certainly, Resorts World thinks the plane is a good fit for their business model.

Fill the economy cabin of that Dreamliner with 250 people, and the cost for a company wouldn’t be much different from flying commercial. The plane could be a canny selling point in all-inclusive conference packages

Meanwhile, Resort World’s new plane remains at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California.