AFP: The head of an air cargo start-up said Friday his company had legally purchased three Boeing 747s left idle at Malaysia’s airport and he was ‘stunned’ by the airport’s claim that their owner could not be found.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) placed a bizarre newspaper advertisement this week saying the owners of the 747-200F aircraft were ‘untraceable’, demanding that they step forward to claim the planes or they would be sold off.
But Blue Peterson, CEO of Malaysia-based Swift Air Cargo, told AFP his company bought the planes from their previous owners in June and had been in contact with KLIA management over the aircraft for months.
“I woke up on 7 December and was stunned to see they were searching for the owner,” said Peterson, 55, an American former pilot for Malaysia Airlines.
He said KLIA management has repeatedly refused to recognise Swift Air Cargo’s possession of the planes despite presenting them with relevant paperwork including statements from the previous owner, whom Peterson declined to identify.
Swift Air Cargo is awaiting a Malaysian permit before it can begin operations.
AFP was not immediately able to obtain a response to Peterson’s claim from relevant officials with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), which manages KLIA and issued the notice on the planes.
In a statement posted on Swift Air Cargo’s website, the company insisted it “has not abandoned the aircraft!”
“Swift is unable to fathom the reason for MAHB’s declaration that it has taken ‘exhaustive steps’ without being able to find (the owner)... when all along, Swift was fulfilling its obligations,” it said.
Peterson speculated that the impasse might be a tactic by the airport to recoup overdue landing, parking and other charges run up by the previous owner of the aircraft.
“It’s probably a delay game. They want to sell off the planes to make up the parking fees owed by the previous owner, but I have told them many times that I am willing to sit down, negotiate and pay part of it,” he told AFP.
“Well, this is Malaysia. I have given them a lot of respect but I don’t know what to do. I’ll just let my lawyers handle it now.”
The airport has said that if payment for the various charges is not received by 21 December, the planes will be auctioned off or sold for scrap.