Global insight

Mystery owner claims abandoned B747-200 freighters

Own up! Who owns 3 abandoned B747-200 freighters?

LOST and found departments at major airports are accustomed to looking after mislaid umbrellas, handbags, coats – and even the occasional false leg.

But three un-liveried B747-200 freighters, left for an entire year on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, have baffled airport managers.

Malaysia Airports, the country’s biggest airport operator, has been forced to place a somewhat comically bizarre advertisement in the classifieds section of a local newspaper, after failing to trace the owner of the three long-haul cargo jets.

“If you fail to collect the aircraft within 14 days of the date of this notice, we reserve the right to sell or to set off any expenses and debt due to us,” it warns.

The owner is due to pay Malaysia Airports substantial parking charges.

The three Boeing 747-200Fs are reported as registration number TF-ARM, parked in Bay B61; TF-ARN, in Bay B61; and TF-ARH in Bay M3.

It is believed that the true owner is a defunct international firm.

Observers say two of three abandoned aircraft may have been leased under an ACMI agreement to MasKargo, Malaysia Airlines’ cargo section, from Air Atlanta Icelandic.

According to local reports, Malaysia Airports’ general manager Zainol Mohd Isa says the ‘planes have been parked at the airport for more than a year. “They’ve yet to pay the parking fee. Where do we send the bill?”

It is not known how much in parking fees and other charges are owed.

Taking out the advertisement is part of the process of legalising whatever debt recovery actions the airport chooses to take.

The aircraft may have little or no intrinsic value, since market prices of most B747-200s have now fallen to scrap level.

The final value of an aircraft is a combination of its engines plus any salvage value that can be derived from its rotable parts.

Models with values better than scrap, depending on accumulated flight hours, are usually the youngest -200Fs which were built in the late 1980s and early’90s, and which are powered by the JT9D-7R4G2 and CF6-50E2 units.

The age of the youngest -200F could be 18 years, while some models are up to 30 years old, placing the type into two distinct categories: those that have completed Section 41 modifications, but have also surpassed their D4 or D5 check (these are most likely to be retired when they reach their next costly D check); and a second group which has not completed Section 41 and faces the US$1.5 million cost of completing such modifications.

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