Decommissioned jumbo jet gets new life as hostel

January 28th, 2009 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, Jan 28 (DPA) Up close, a Boeing 747-200 is an impressive sight. Visitors to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport can now get a real, close-up view of a mighty bird - in the form of a decommissioned jumbo jet which has been converted into a hostel.General Manager Oscar Dios hopes that aviation enthusiasts, budget travellers, charter tourists and day visitors will book a stay at the Jumbo Hostel that opened in mid-January.

The hostel offers 74 beds in different combinations - from four to three to twin beds in the fuselage.

The most expensive suite is located in the flight deck. Two beds have replaced the seats formerly occupied by pilot, co-pilot and navigator.

Although most of the instruments and meters have been removed, the flight controls remain as well as some of the numerous switches that the crew have to keep track of.

En suite is a bathroom and shower - and adjacent is the top deck where eight of the 16 original chairs have been kept. Day visitors can rent a chair for 200 kronor ($25) for five hours to relax, or the area can be used for conferences or meetings, Dios explained.

The top deck area is also the only part of the plan where the original insulation has been left unchanged. That allows some of the background sounds to filter through from the airport and nearby runways that are visible through the plane windows.

However, the other rooms and remainder of the plane’s public areas have been sound-proofed, site manager Gisela Olsson and crew of six stressed.

Olsson, like the other crew members, wears a navy-blue uniform, modelled on a version worn by a now defunct Swedish domestic airline.

Visitors can order food and buy souvenirs geared toward guests interested in aviation as well as gift certificates, Olsson said pointing to an area in the hostel lobby.

To access the top deck, visitors have to climb a narrow stairway making it a no-go zone for wheel-chairs.

However, the rest of the plane is open for disabled people - and the main deck is reachable via an elevator.

At present, the four engines are missing as the engine pods are being converting into two-bed rooms, Dios said. The new rooms will have been be added to the plane by mid-March. Guests will have to scale ladders to reach them.

“The hostel is the first to be housed in a jumbo jet,” Dios said, at least he and his partners have failed to find others when searching the Internet.

The project got underway in 2006 and securing permits and organising other paperwork has gone “very smoothly”, Dios said, adding that nearby hotels and Arlanda airport management have welcomed the “landmark” project.

Dios also operates a hostel in Uppsala, north-west of Stockholm and in Sigtuna, near the airport. The lease for the area where the huge jumbo is parked is valid until 2023.

If the family-controlled operation is successful, it could be followed by other hostels in other parts of the world, Dios said.

The decommissioned jumbo jet was built in 1976 and has been operated by carriers including Singapore Airlines and Pan American World Airways, better known as PanAm. It was taken out of service in 2002, and has featured at Arlanda for some time.

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