The international mystery over the three 747 freighter jets that have sat idle at Malaysia's main airport for more than a year appears to be solved.
On Friday, SWIFT Air Cargo came forward to claim ownership in a statement, adding that it "very much has not forgotten" the jets at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Airport officials on Tuesday posted notices in two newspapers warning that the jets could be seized and sold if no one claims them after apparently being abandoned on the tarmac.
The notice posted inThe Star and Sin Chew Daily gave the "untraceable" owner of the three Boeing 747-200F freighters 14 days to collect the aircraft. Failure to do so could mean the airport will sell "or otherwise dispose of" the aircraft and use the proceeds to offset expenses.
In an interview with Bloomberg, airport General Manager Zainol Mohamad Isa declined to say how much in parking fees and other debts remained outstanding.
In a statement, Kuala Lumpur-based SWIFT Cargo said it was surprised to learn of the ultimatum when the story made headlines around the world, and claimed to have been in contact with airport officials prior to the notices being published.
"SWIFT is understandably very concerned when MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad) declares to the world that 'exhaustive steps' were taken to find a contact person, yet SWIFT has been meeting with MAHB on a consistent basis," the company said.
In its advertisement, Malaysia Airports stated that the public notice under the 1969 Civil Aviation Act "is a common and reasonable step in the process of debt recovery," particularly if the owner is a foreign entity "whereby exhaustive steps undertaken to find a contact person have not been successful."
The jets have reportedly been passed from one airline to the next over the years, but SWIFT Cargo claims to have the notarized bill of sales for all three.
However, in a statement, Malaysia Airports said it was awaiting more information to verify SWIFT Cargo's claim of ownership.
Even if Malaysia Airports, which operates the international terminal, seizes the jets, they're unlikely to make a killing.
The 747-200F line has been out of production since 1991 and the market for four-engine freighter jets is weak, Bloomberg reported. The resale value of the aging aircraft also greatly diminishes with the age of the model year.
Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jason Wells at email@example.com.
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