Way back in May 1981, Air New Zealand took ownership of the Queen of the Skies for the first time. This first Boeing 747, a -200 variant, was followed over the next 18 years by an additional 14 of the type. However, by October 2014, no more 747s would be seen in ANZ livery. What happened to all these jumbo jets, and where are they now?
Of the seven 747-200s operated by Air New Zealand, five were brand new to the airline. Two, however, worked elsewhere before joining the carrier. ZK-TGA had previously spent an amazing 16 years flying for Thai Airways as HS-TGA, before joining Air New Zealand in May 1996. After a short three months with the carrier, it was taken on by Atlas Air and converted to a cargo plane, although it has been stored in the Mojave desert since 2012.
The second used 747 which worked for ANZ was 9M-MHI. Originally ordered for British Airways but for some reason not taken up, it worked for Malaysia Airlines from 1982. In 1994, Garuda Indonesia leased it from MAS, and later the same year, ANZ also leased it, before returning it to MAS in December that year. MAS had it converted to a cargo plane, and it spent 19 years flying cargo, before ending up in storage at Fujairah where it remains today.
Both those 747s were leased to ANZ, perhaps to cover down time of other aircraft. However, the rest of the -200s had a much longer stint with the carrier. The longest serving were ZK-NZV and ZK-NZW, both of which worked in the fleet for 18 years. The rest served for mixed timeframes, although all bar one were more than 10 years with ANZ.
Interesting, all these Boeing 747-200s operated, at some point in their post-Air New Zealand lives, for Virgin Atlantic in the UK. However, there’s something else they all have in common too, and that’s that they are all now scrapped. Sad times.
Air New Zealand operated eight of the 747-400 variant, the first of which arrived in February 1991. The carrier continued to receive -400s right up until 1998.
Sadly, five of these Queens have gone to the big scrapyard in the sky. ZK-NBS, ZK-NBT, ZK-NBU and ZK-SUH were all scrapped by Air New Zealand themselves, having operated for the carrier for between 18 and 22 years. ZK-SUI had a little longer in service, working for Air Atlanta Icelandic until 2014, and then eventually being scrapped.
However, the other three 747s, the newest in the Air New Zealand fleet, still live to tell the tale of their time down under. ZK-SUJ left ANZ in 2011 and was converted to cargo, and has since been operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic as TF-AMN. ZK-NBW left ANZ in 2011 and was also turned into a cargo aircraft. It has been working ever since for Asiana Airlines as a freighter as HL7620.
Only one of Air New Zealand’s 747-400s remains an in service passenger plane, and it’s a very special one too. ZK-NBV was the 747 that received that very special Lord of the Rings livery, which it displayed between 2002 and 2004.
It was the very last 747 to leave the ANZ fleet, exiting in October 2014. Since then, it has been a part of Wamos Air’s fleet, and was lucky enough to receive another special livery last year, celebrating the airline’s 15 years of flying. Right now, Wamos are leasing it to Garuda Indonesia, so if you’re taking a long haul from Jakarta any time soon, you could see this very plane operating as EC-MDS!
Do you miss Air New Zealand’s 747s? Did you ever get a chance to fly them? Let us know in the comments!