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Inside a British Airways Boeing 747 turned 'party plane' was bought for R20 by an English airport

Business Insider US
Boeing 747 "party plane."
  • Cotswold Airport in England bought a British Airways 747 for $1.35 (R20.27) and converted it into a "party plane."
  • The aircraft, which features a dance floor and bar, costs $1,350 (R20 271.94) per hour to rent, or $16,000 (R240 260) for 24 hours.
  • The airport has plans to get the TV screens working so it can host monthly cinema nights onboard.
  • For more stories visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za

The iconic Boeing 747 jumbo jet has been an unfortunate casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many airlines speeding up its retirement over the past two years.

Korean Air Boeing 747

Boeing will stop making the 747 after more than 51 years of passenger flight.

In 2020, British Airways sent its 747s to Cotswold Airport in England for storage, and the planes sat in rows until they were officially retired in October of the same year.

British Airways 747s parked at Cotswold Airport.

However, while most of the planes were sent to the junkyard to be disassembled, the airport did not want to let all of them go.

British Airways Boeing 747.

So, Cotswold Airport CEO Suzannah Harvey asked the airline if she could keep one of the 747s and repurpose it to preserve the Queen of the Skies' legacy and beauty.

Suzannah Harvey with the Boeing 747 "party plane."

The airline agreed and sold it to the airport for just $1.35 (R20.27) . As part of the sale, Harvey explained to Insider that BA has entrusted the airport to maintain the aircraft "as long as it is financially practical for the public use."

British Airways 747 "party plane."

The 747 first joined the BA fleet in 1994 and operated 13,398 flights across nearly 60 million miles. It took its final flight from Miami to London Heathrow in April 2020.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

The jumbo jet is one of four aircraft that feature BA's unique Negus paint job that was adorned in the 1970s and 1980s. The heritage livery was painted in 2019 to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

The airport invested £500,00 (R10 million) to convert the jet into a "party plane." However, £200,000 (R4 million) of that was used to build a concrete slab that houses the massive plane.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

Source: CNN

Onboard, guests will find the economy section has been transformed into a dance floor complete with lights, seating, and a DJ stand...

Boeing 747 "party plane."

…while the galleys have been turned in a bar.

Boeing 747 "party plane" galley bar.

Meanwhile, the overhead bins and ceiling panels have been removed to reveal the fly-by-wire and inner workings of the aircraft.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

"When you use the controls in the cockpit, that end actually has a physical effect by a wire on the 747s ailerons, flaps, etc., but nowadays it's all just computer," Harvey explained. "So, it's very special."

Boeing 747 "party plane."

Moreover, the lights have been rewired to replicate the original lighting system the aircraft had when it was on the ground, costing about £80,000 (R1.6 million).

Boeing 747 "party plane."

Source: CNN

The rest of the plane has been kept completely intact, including the upper deck, Harvey said.

Boeing 747 "party plane" upper deck.

However, she explained the airport initially intended to keep the inflight TVs working and do a monthly cinema screening onboard, but the systems have proven difficult. The screens are expected to be fixed in the next six months or so.

Boeing 747 "party plane" screens.

While many aviation enthusiasts will want to enter the cockpit, Harvey told Insider that some of the systems are still operable, so no one will be able to touch the controls. However, a barrier will be put in the doorway so interested eyes can still see inside.

Boeing 747 "party plane" cockpit.

According to Harvey, the plane's event space is intended for things like weddings and she is getting dozens of inquiries a day. "We're getting everything from big car manufacturers to individual birthday parties," she said.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

Although the 747 is built for entertainment and events, its use is versatile.

"Party plane" economy section before removal.

Recently, the plane was used for a hijacking scene for a movie, Harvey told Insider. However, she explained that unless given permission by the airline, BA's livery will need to be edited out of the film to protect the company's brand.

British Airways 747 "party plane" landing at Cotswold Airport.

Despite the hefty renovations, there is one part of the plane that has been particularly difficult to get operational — the toilets.

British Airways 747 lavatory.

"They are designed to work like a vacuum when the aircraft is pressurized, so it's something we'll look at at a later date," she said. "For now, we have a really posh little loo block outside, which does the job for the time being."

British Airways 747 "party plane."

For those wanting to book the space for a wedding, it'll cost £12,000 (R244 315) for 24-hours, including set up and break down times. The regular hourly rate is £1,000 (R20 269).

Boeing 747 "party plane."

Harvey said the interest in the aircraft is exciting and she expects the investment will pay itself back over a couple of years.

British Airways 747 "party plane."

Moreover, part of the money earned will be put into the airport's annual scholarship program and to pay for students' private pilot licenses.

Boeing 747 "party plane."

"Every year we take on 10 kids for about two weeks and they get some flight training and get to go to Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and some of the military bases nearby to see all the different aspects of aviation careers they could do," she said.

British Airways 747 "party plane" landing at Cotswold Airport.

Source: Gloucestershire Live

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