Did You Forget Your Planes? Airport Takes Out Ad to Locate Owner

Airport Advertises to Find Owner of Abandoned 747s
  • Someone left three Boeing 747s on tarmac in Kuala Lumpur
  • Terminal operator says: Claim them soon or they will be sold

There are a few unusually large items lying at the lost-and-found counter of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. placed an advertisement Monday in the nation’s best-selling English daily asking for the “untraceable” owner of three Boeing Co. 747-200F planes to come and collect them. The planes are parked at three separate bays at KLIA in Sepang, outside the Malaysian capital, the Star newspaper ad showed.

The advert in Monday's Star newspaper.
The advert in Monday's Star newspaper.
Source: Star Newspaper

“If you fail to collect the aircraft within 14 days of the date of this notice, we reserve the right to sell or otherwise dispose of the aircraft pursuant to the Civil Aviation Regulations 1996 and use the money raised to set off any expenses and debt due to us under the said regulations,” the notice read.

Out of production since 1991, even the youngest models from the -200F line would fetch only pennies on the dollar. A freighter from that year has a market value of about $13.1 million -- and a 1978 version would be worth only about 1/10th that sum, according to prices compiled by aviation consultant Avitas.

That’s a reflection of the planes’ age as well as dwindling demand for four-engine jets and a slumping air-cargo market. A factory-fresh 747-8 freighter retails for $379.1 million before the discounts that are customary in the aerospace industry.

Left Behind

The three jumbos have been sitting on the KLIA tarmac for more than a year, said Zainol Mohd. Isa, general manager of Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn., which operates the international air terminal. He declined to say how much in parking fees and other charges were owed.

“We have been in communication with the so-called owner, but they have not been responding to take away the aircraft. That’s why we go through this process to legalize whatever actions we want to take,” Zainol said by phone Tuesday. “We want to clear the area, we want to utilize our parking bay.”

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder declined to comment. Giving notice by ads is a "common and reasonable step" in the debt-recovery process, Malaysia Airports said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

That’s especially true when the plane owner is a foreign company that’s no longer operating and "exhaustive steps undertaken to find a contact person have not been successful," Malaysia Airports said. "This step is also a common process undertaken by airport operators all over the world when faced with such a situation."

At least one of the jets was operated by the cargo unit of Malaysia Airlines, which leased the plane from Air Atlanta Icelandic, a Kopavogur, Iceland-based lessor providing planes along with crew, maintenance and insurance services, according to Planespotters.net. Air Atlanta Icelandic didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Some of these aircraft from Air Atlanta Icelandic were on wet lease to MASkargo, but the contract expired in April 2010, MASkargo said in an e-mail Tuesday. 

“We have no further involvement with those aircraft since then,” MASkargo said.

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