When Tom Cruise blows up a plane, Elephant and Castle business owner Akbar Ali is on hand to clean up the mess.
The owner of Carpets Direct on Old Kent Road, Akbar is also in the plane game, buying and pulling apart aircrafts, including the Boeing 737 and a BAE 146 used on the set of Tom Cruise’s latest film All you need is kill, which was filmed in Warner Brothers studios in North London earlier this year and is due for release in 2014.
“It was a lot of mess; this is a big, commercial sized plane,” Akbar tells. “We’ve taken it apart to transport it to the studio, re-assembled it and then they’ve put glowing gunpowder in it and literally blown the whole thing up,” he says. “The special effects obviously exaggerate it, but when we went back to the set the wings were on top of the plane, which fortunately we expected otherwise it might have been a bit upsetting!”
As part of Akbar’s company Imperial Air Salvage, which he runs with two business partners, he buys old aeroplanes and literally recycles the entire thing, restoring parts and selling them off. Whatever is left over gets chopped up and goes back into building new planes. “Unfortunately there’s a huge number of planes all over the world that just sit there being wasted and we like to be able to take them off their hands,” Akbar says.
The plane enthusiast got into the industry following a childhood dream of flying. “It’s one of those things where as a little kid you want to fly planes and this is my way of getting as close to that as I can,” he says. The company currently stores a couple of planes in Kent, as well as others dotted all over the globe, including a Boeing 747, which is the latest addition to their collection.
“This is one of the first projects we’ve done with a film studio, so we’re hoping there’ll be more to come.”