PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network, AFP) - Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on Tuesday (Dec 8) denied owning any of the three aircraft that have apparently been abandoned at KL International Airport (KLIA), a day after the airport operator triggered a public search for the planes' owner.
In a notice in The Star's classifieds section on Monday (Dec 7), Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), which manages KLIA, gave the unknown owner of three Boeing 747-200F aircraft 14 days to collect his planes.
"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," the notice read, adding that the money raised would be used to offset any expenses and debts due.
The owner was being sought under the Civil Aviation Regulations 1996 and could be subjected to charges by Malaysia Airports (Sepang), presumably for storing the three planes at the international airport, although the notice does not specify how much.
The notice gave the planes’ registration numbers as TF-ARM, TF-ARN, and TF-ARH. Two are passenger aircraft and one is a cargo plane.
Zainol Mohd Isa, general manager of Malaysia Airports (Sepang), said KLIA had been trying to contact the planes’ last known owners. He said they were “international” and not Malaysian, but declined to give further details.
“I don’t know why they are not responding. There could be many reasons. Sometimes it could be because they have no money to continue operations,” Zainol said.
Aviation enthusiasts, however, have linked two of the three aircraft to Malaysia Airlines after a search online found that MasKargo had leased two of the planes from Air Atlanta Icelandic.
But a MAS media relations officer said the airline does not own any of the three Boeing 747-200F aircraft. "If it was ours, we would have claimed it," said the officer.
Air Atlanta Icelandic meanwhile told The Star it has "nothing to do" with the three aircraft.
The company's senior vice president of sales and marketing, Baldvin M. Hermannsson, said in an email that the three aircraft did belong to Air Atlantia, but was returned to their owner in 2010.
"Air Atlanta Icelandic does not have any knowledge of who the current owner of these aircraft is today, and has nothing to do with these aircraft today," said Hermannsson. He did not say who the owner of the aircraft was.
He added that the three aircraft had been de-registered from the Registry of the Icelandic Civil Aviation Authority. "No-one seems to have painted over the registration marks since then," said Hermannsson.
Malaysia Airports' Zainol said KLIA is seeking payment from the planes' owner for landing, parking and other charges.
It is not the first time this has happened at the airport, he said. In the past decade a few other planes, mostly smaller aircraft, were abandoned. He said an aircraft that was abandoned in the 1990s was eventually bought and turned into a restaurant in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.
MAHB said in a statement on Tuesday that "exhaustive steps" were taken to find a contact person for the abandoned Boeings, but its efforts have not been successful.
"The giving of such notice by way of advertisement is a common and reasonable step in the process of debt recovery especially in cases where the company concerned has ceased operations and is a foreign entity," said MAHB.
"This step is also a common process undertaken by airport operators all over the world when faced with such a situation," it added.
KLIA was the origin of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared after taking off on March 8, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew aboard in what remains one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.
Malaysia earlier this year confirmed that a wing part found on the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean was from the plane. But no further wreckage has been found despite an intensive Australian-led oceanic search.