A former British Airways multibillion-dollar jet has found a new lease of life as a private event space in the English countryside.
Having made its last passenger flight from Miami to London Heathrow in April 2020, the British Airways Negus aircraft is now hosting events at the privately-owned Cotswold Airport in England's south-west.
Owner and airport chief executive Suzannah Harvey purchased the aircraft registered G-CIVB for £1 ($1.3) during the Covid-19 pandemic, after BA decided to retire its 747 fleet early because of a lack of travel demand.
Having flown for the British airline for 27 years, the Queen of the Skies remains in pristine condition and almost all of its internal elements have been preserved. However, guests partying on the aircraft won't be able to use the evacuation slides to exit the jet – health and safety requirements mean these have had to be deactivated.
The economy section of the plane is where things now look quite different. Fixtures and fittings have been removed to create a sprawling events space, with the gallery turned into a bar, decoration added and custom sound and lighting wired throughout the fuselage.
Party planners and those looking for a unique place to host an event can now hire the jet, with rates starting at more than £1,000 ($1,345) per hour.
Over the years, the 747 operated 13,398 flights and clocked up nearly 60 million air miles with British Airways. It will now remain firmly on the ground with the cost of preparing it for public use standing at an estimated £500,000 (about $673,000) to date.
As well as hosting private events, the jet will open to the public for educational tours in March. This was a term of the sale deal and visitors will have to pay a small yet-to-be determined entry fee.
"There is such a huge amount of interest in her as British Airways's last commercially operated 747 and with the historic livery in which she is painted,” Harvey said.
Any proceeds raised from public visits will go towards the jet’s preservation and excess funds are set to go into a scholarship that Cotswold Airport plans to operate.
Large gatherings in England are currently restricted owing to Covid-19 rules, with venues having to enforce social distancing requirements and check vaccination status or negative lateral flow test results from attendees.
However, these rules will be lifted on Thursday when the UK government is set to relax restrictions and moves to what the country is calling "Plan A” measures.