Air New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings Boeing 747 is parked in Spain, waiting to take its final flight across the Atlantic to one of the US’s aircraft graveyards. However, all hope is not yet lost. A group of aviation enthusiasts is seeking investors to bring the iconic jet back to New Zealand.
It is always nice when someone wants to rescue a Queen of the Skies from ending up at an aircraft graveyard. It is particularly so when it is one that has carried a memorable livery and has a special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts and Tolkien fans alike.
The Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400 that bore the special Lord of the Rings livery between 2002 and 2004 is currently stored at Madrid’s Ciudad Real Central Airport. It is reportedly ready to take its final flight to an unnamed US scrapyard in January or February next year. However, a quest is underway to bring it back to the other side of the globe.
Boutique hotel and attraction in its own right
As reported by Star News, a group of aviation enthusiasts, headed by Radio New Zealand National announcer Paul Brennan, is now trying to find investors to purchase the plane.
The intention is for the jet to relocate to Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. It would then serve as a tourist attraction in its own right for both LOTR and Boeing 747 fans. Moreover, it would be turned into a boutique hotel for those journeying to the popular ski and summer resort town.
One does not simply fly into Wanaka
Mr Brennan, speaking on behalf of the group, said that they do not wish to lose it as it is the only original Air New Zealand 747 left. His intention is to purchase the plane for somewhere between one and two million Australian dollars.
They would then fly it to Christchurch Airport. There, it would have its wings and engines removed, and the parts would be trucked to Wanaka’s National Transport and Toy Museum.
“The main thing is recovering it, and if we can just get it back, even if it’s parked up for a while, it’s not going to go under the arm of a digger, which is what they use to rip these things to pieces. We don’t want that to happen,” Mr Brennan told Star News.
There are already other success stories of 747s living on as hotels or attractions. Jumbo Stay at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport has proven very popular. One of Corendon’s jumbo jets has been turned into a permanent feature at the Corendon Village Hotel next to Amsterdam’s Schiphol.
What has it been up to?
The 22-year-old 747-400 arrived with Air New Zealand straight from Boeing’s Everett facilities in October 1998. For its time with ANZ, it was registered as ZK-NBV. The carrier stopped operating it in 2014. It was taken up by Spanish leisure charter specialist Wamos Air the following year and re-registered as EC-MDS.
Wamos Air has leased the plane on a number of occasions to both Saudia and Garuda Indonesia. It was withdrawn from use after being returned from the latter earlier this year. While Wamos had intentions to retire the plane in the near future, the process has, as for so many other jumbo jets, sped up due to the current crisis.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien.