Officials at Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport in Spain are trying to locate the owner of an abandoned McDonnell Douglas MD-87 that has been taking up costly space at the facility for years, CNN reported this weekend.
According to CNN, airport director Elena Mayoral published a notice in the Boletín Oficial del Estado, Spain’s official gazette, that described the jetliner as in an “obvious state of abandonment.” It is the only such aircraft at the airport, a spokesperson told CNN. While there are numerous planes across the world at aviation graveyards, ones abandoned at actual airports are rare.
CNN wrote that if the owner of the aircraft does not come forth, the plane will simply be sold to the highest bidder at auction:
Under Spanish law, authorities must publish official notices about the plane for three consecutive months and then wait a year to see if the owner comes forward to claim it.
If they do not, the plane will be considered legally abandoned and will be sold off by the state at a public auction.
According to El País, the Aircraft Registration Registry of Spain’s Air Security Agency (AESA) and the Central Property Registry are attempting to track down the last registered owner. If that owner was located, they would be required to pay any debt accrued for the aircraft’s extended storage at the airport; if they refused, the matter would be referred to tax authorities.
However, the plane passed through a series of failed businesses, El País wrote. It was first flown for Iberia in 1990, and 18 years later acquired by Pronair, “a charter airline headquartered in Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha.” Pronair shut down soon thereafter, and the plane was acquired by a cargo airline named Saicus Air in 2010 and “rented to third parties along with a cabin crew.” Saicus Air itself declared bankruptcy late that year, and someone “sealed off its motors, pilot-static system, Pitot tubes and the rest of its openings,” El País concluded. Photos of the craft show it still bears the words “Saicus Air” on its side.
It’s not clear what condition the plane is in, but the MD-87 line was manufactured in the late eighties. Another MD-87, reconfigured for use as a private jet, is listed at $4.8 million on the website of California air sales company Bloomer deVere Dahlfors, CNN wrote.
As CNN noted, a similar incident occurred at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia in 2015, when three Boeing 747 cargo planes were abandoned at the airport throughout the year. When officials failed to locate the owners, they were later auctioned off at a bargain-basement price and demolished by excavators, with the Straits Times reporting that the planes were useless as anything but scrap.