Since 2012, a white Boeing has been standing at Basel Airport. It has accumulated only a few flying hours and appears to be in good shape. But now there are indications that it will be scrapped.
Basel Airport with its various maintenance companies is repeatedly the scene of dramatic aircraft fates. Among other things, the events at the Euro-Airport trigger an international echo.
This is currently the case with the jumbo jet with the registration number N458BJ, which started what is presumed to be its last journey from Basel to the USA in April last year.
Although, according to industry experts, the Boeing 747-8 is technically almost as good as new and has only flown 42 hours, it is now threatened with a dreary existence in an aircraft parking area in the Arizona desert. It may be scrapped there, as the portal Flugrevue writes.
The aircraft had previously been parked at Basel Airport for almost ten years and has become a monument to an obscene waste of money: the list price of the Boeing at the time of its order is said to have been 300 million dollars; due to a lack of interest, the second-hand giant aircraft now only has a purchase price in the double-digit millions, according to aerotelegraph.com. Good condition or not.
How did it come to this? In the beginning, there was the dream of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan ibn Abd al-Aziz (circa 1928 to 2011). In his old age, the Sultan wanted a new flagship for the Saudi VIP fleet, whereupon the government ordered the Boeing 747-8 in the noughties. Incidentally, the U.S. president's new plane, Air Force One, is also based on this model.
The Saudi crown prince was far from being able to expect the standard of equipment of an Air Force One, but he at least wanted to equip his Boeing with a lot of luxury. So shortly after its completion in 2012, the aircraft was to be sent to Basel, Switzerland, to Jet Aviation, a company that knows a thing or two about flying palaces. The problem: The crown prince had died in 2011, and the remaining Saudis had no interest in the jumbo jet. The N458BJ passed to the Bank of Utah, which had initially acted as trustee.
The "Flugrevue" summarizes the subsequent years of the Boeing at Euro-Airport thus: The originally planned installation of the VIP cabin had never taken place, the contract had been canceled - and the N458BJ, "patiently standing its landing gear in its belly," had waited for better times. "So the years passed, no one was interested in the aircraft that had been put up for sale - which still presents itself in a raw state inside and could therefore, theoretically, be converted into a freighter quite quickly as well (although a conversion program for the 747-8 does not yet exist)."
If scrapped, at least individual parts could be sold and reused. Pinal Airpark in Arizona, which the Boeing approached over Easter, is one of the largest parking lots and aircraft graveyards in the world.
Photo: René Bolli