With jet lag and the rush to get from gate to gate, it is easy to mislay property in airports. But Kuala Lumpur International airport in Malaysia is dealing with some highly unusual lost property — three abandoned Boeing 747 passenger jets.
The airport authority has placed adverts in newspapers warning that the owners of the planes have two weeks to remove them — or risk having their property sold to settle unpaid parking bills. In public, at least, no one is claiming ownership of the aircraft, which have been sitting in the airport for more than a year.
Online aviation enthusiasts reported that the three Boeing 747-200Fs were once owned by Air Atlanta Icelandic, a Reykjavik company which leases aircraft. At least two of the aircraft were leased by the cargo arm of Malaysia Airlines, the troubled national carrier which has lost two of its passenger planes in the past two years — one to a suspected Russian missile attack over Ukraine and the other, MH370, in a still unexplained disappearance.
Air Atlanta Icelandic insists that the planes do not belong to the leasing company and says they were returned to their owner in 2010. “Air Atlanta Icelandic does not have any knowledge of who the current owner of these aircraft is and has nothing to do with these aircraft today,” Baldvin Hermannsson, the company’s senior vice-president, told The Straits Times of Singapore.
Malaysian Airport Holdings defended the two-week warning issued, saying that using advertisements for such a purpose was a “reasonable step in the process of debt recovery, especially in cases where the company concerned has ceased operations and is a foreign entity”.
Manufacture of Boeing 747-200Fs ended in 1991 and the planes today would fetch only a few million dollars each — compared with the $379.1 million price tag for a new 747-8.
The official warning states: “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.”
Zainol Mohamad Isa Zainol, the airport general manager, said: “We placed the advertisements because we want to remove ambiguity over ownership of the planes.
“We want the owners to step forward and we want the planes to be out of our airport bay.”