A group of aviation enthusiasts from New Zealand has gathered for a noble purpose to save the former Air New Zealand Boeing 747 jet from scrapping. They are initiating a funding campaign to raise around $2.3 million (NZ2.5 million). The money will be used to purchase the Jumbo Jet from its current owner and fly it back to New Zealand from the United States.

The Boeing 747 jet rescue plan

Since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the downturn in the commercial aviation market has pushed airlines to speed up the retirement of the iconic Boeing 747 jumbo jet due to low aircraft cost-efficiency levels. The Spanish air carrier Wamos Air as well as other airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, etc., decided to withdraw the iconic type from their fleets. 

Some Boeing 747 fans have gathered into a group “Bring Our Birds Home''. The group, led by aviation enthusiast Paul Brennan, fight to secure the aircraft from scrapping and bring it back to New Zealand, the land where it originally started serving passengers. 

According to the group’s website, the main goal of the campaign is to “secure and eventually recover and return” the last five Boeing 747 jumbos which used to serve the country’s operating for such airlines as Tasman Empire Airways, New Zealand National Airways Corporation, Air New Zealand, as well as Thomas Cook Airlines between 1959 and 1988.

The group is now raising money to save Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400, registered as ZK-NBV, which will otherwise be scrapped by the middle of July 2021.

The story of the extraordinary painted jumbo

According to the Planespotters.com data, an almost 23-year-old jumbo jet, painted in a special livery of the Lord of the Rings theme, joined the Air New Zealand’s fleet in 1998 and was the last Queen of the Skies to be retired by the airline in 2014.

After leaving its first owner, in 2015 the jet was taken over by the Madrid-based airline Wamos Air, where it was re-registered as EC-MDS and later leased for Saudi Arabian Airlines. During the pandemic, ever since June of 2020, the jumbo jet has been no longer used for passenger service. Instead of flying, it has been stored at the Roswell Air Center (ROW) in the U.S, awaiting its fate.

Speaking to the media on June 22, 2021, Brennan said that he has already negotiated with the owner-airline over the jumbo rescue. However, only a couple of weeks are left for the group to raise the money needed before the jet will be scrapped.

If enthusiasts manage to raise around $2.3 million, they will bring the jet from the U.S. to New Zealand, where the jet will be repainted into its original livery and passed on to the National Transport and Toy Museum in Wanaka, New Zealand.