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Ownership of unclaimed 747s up in the air

Posted On: Dec. 15, 2015 12:00 AM CST

It's tough to imagine a company — or its insurers — mislaying three jumbo jets worth millions of dollars, but that scenario is playing out in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport has had three abandoned Boeing planes taking up space on the airport's tarmac for almost five years.

The airport operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. placed an ad in the local newspaper that said if the Boeing 747-200F planes were not collected within two weeks they reserved the right to sell or otherwise dispose of the aircraft and to use the money to pay off parking charges and other expenses that have accrued.

The three aircraft were parked at the airport in mid-2010 by Air Atlanta Icelandic. Ownership of the planes was later turned over to Shaanxi Sunshine Cargo, which went out of business since then. News reports say the airport operator has been in touch with the owner, of the now allegedly defunct international firm, and they have ignored requests to remove the aircraft.

The planes don't appear to be registered to any company. However, Malaysian cargo carrier Splunk n' Dash Sdn., has stepped forward claiming they are the owners and that they have the documents to prove it, but airport authorities don't believe it's true, and are not convinced that the paperwork the firm has produced proves they are the owners, because a new Aircraft Operating Certificate has not been issued, according to Malaysia Airports.

The newest plane of the three, a -200F model, has been out of production since 1991 and would be worth about $13 million today, compared with a new 747 freighter which would go for about $379.1 million. Experts said the value would depend on the engines since that's the most valued item on a plane, and they don't believe anyone would want the older engines.