The Fight To Save The Former Air New Zealand Boeing 747s

A group of aviation fans in New Zealand called “Bring Our Birds Home” is battling to save a former Air New Zealand 747 from the scrapyard and use it as a hotel at the National Transport and Toy Museum in Wanaka, South Island. The group had its sights firmly fixed on a  Wamos Air 747 that had been sent to storage at  Aeropuerto Central Ciudad Real (CQM) during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly the group was not able to rescue the plane as its Spanish owners decided to scrap it.

Air New Zealand Boeing 747
Bring Our Birds Home to save a former Air New Zealand 747 from the scrapyard Photo: Getty Images

Knowing that Wamos Air had other Boeing 747s that used to belong to Air New Zealand, the group turned its attention to a Boeing 747-400 with the registration number EC-MDS that once flew for Air New Zealand under the registration ZK-NBV. Air New Zealand received the jumbo jet in 1998 from Boeing’s Everett facilities and gave it the name Christchurch after the South Island’s largest city.

Lord of the Rings

Air New Zealand operated the aircraft for 16 years, during some of which time it was painted in a special livery to promote New Zealand’s links to the film “Lord of the Rings.”

In December of 2020, Wamos Air decided to retire its fleet of 747s and sent the 22-year-old to CQM for storage before flying it to Roswell International Air Center (ROW) in Roswell, New Mexico, where it was to be broken up for parts.

“Bring Our Birds Home” leader Radio New Zealand National announcer Paul Brennan told the New Zealand daily newspaper the Otago Daily Times the following back in December:

“We don’t want to lose it because it’s the only original Air New Zealand 747 left.”

The group would like to purchase the plane and then fly it to Christchurch International Airport (CHC), where the wings and engines would be taken off and transported by truck to Wanaka’s National Transport and Toy Museum.

Brennan thinks that its Lord of the Rings connections will appeal to people. Photo: Getty Images

Because the aircraft was once famous for its “Lord of the Rings” livery, Mr. Brennan thinks it would appeal to J.R.R. Tolkien fans and lovers of the Queen of the Skies, calling the idea a “great business opportunity” for “the people with the big money.”

When speaking about its book and movie links, Mr. Brennan said:

“It’s well known to Lord of the Rings fans around the world, and that’s another added attraction if you are trying to get people to go stay there.”

Sweden already had a 747 hotel at Arlanda Airport, which had been “incredibly successful,” Mr. Brennan added.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

The group wants to buy more planes

The group has already made an offer to purchase the plane and is, according to the Austrian aviation enthusiast website, aeroTELEGRAPH looking to rescue five other former Air New Zealand planes for the museum.

The planes “Bring Our Birds Home” want to rescue are listed below:

  • Boeing 737-200
  • Hawker Siddeley 748
  • Douglas DC-8
  • McDonnell Douglas DC-10
  • Lockheed L-188 Electra

About Wanaka and the Toy Museum

founded during the Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s, Wanaka, along with the rest of the Queenstown-Lakes District, is regarded as the gateway to the Southern Alps. Wanaka is a popular ski and summer resort town in the Otago region of the South Island, attracting visitors from around the globe.

1961 Air New Zealand Fokker F-27-100 Friendship
1961 Air New Zealand Fokker F-27-100 Friendship. Photo: National Transport & Toy Museum Wanaka, NZ

The National Transport & Toy Museum houses one of the largest private collections of toys, vehicles, and aircraft globally. The collection includes over 600 classic cars, motorcycles, and military vehicles. Also on display are 20 civilian and military aircraft dating from the 1930s. As for toys, the museum has more than 60,000 that will fascinate the inner child in all who see them.

It is great to see aviation groups like “Bring Our Birds Home” rescue planes that would otherwise just be scrapped, and we hope that they can achieve their aim of rescuing other former Air New Zealand planes.

What do you think about a 747 Lord of the Rings hotel in New Zealand? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.