Malaysian airport officials are seeking the “untraceable” owners of three Boeing jets abandoned on the tarmac in Kuala Lumpur for more than a year.
The large Boeing 747-200Fs - two passenger and one cargo jet - having been racking up unpaid storage fees at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd is now calling on the owner to collect them.
KLIA hit international headlines last year, when Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared after taking off from the airport in one of aviation’s biggest mysteries.
In a notice placed in a Malaysian newspaper this week, the airport authority gave the owner 14 days to claim the unmarked jets, failing which it said it would “sell or dispose” of them.
“This step is also a common process undertaken by airport operators all over the world when faced with such a situation,” the authority said in a statement.
No one has claimed ownership of the aircraft so far, said airport general manager Zainol Mohamad Isa yesterday.
“We haven’t decided what to do with the planes, although we have been getting inquiries from all over the world,” said Zainol.
Industry experts said it was not unheard of for unwanted planes to be left at airports.
“You do get examples of aircraft being abandoned around the world, because the money you would get from a sale doesn’t cover the outstanding storage charges,” a second-hand aircraft trader said, asking not to be named. “But it is unusual for the airport to be so public about it.”
Searches of the planes’ registration numbers on the website www.planespotters.net showed the aircraft had been registered to an Iceland-based air charter and leasing company, Air Atlanta Icelandic, and that two had at one time been in service with Malaysia Airlines.
Air Atlanta Icelandic was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying it operated the planes until 2010 but had “nothing to do” with the planes since then. Malaysia Airlines was also quoted as saying it no longer owned or leased the planes.
Malaysia’s aviation sector has suffered a difficult period since flight MH370 disappeared in March last year while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
In July, Malaysia-based carrier AirAsia complained that a new international terminal for budget airlines at KLIA was sinking, with waterlogging on the tarmac.
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