Kuala Lumpur International Airport
The Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.Reuters

The mystery of the owner of three unclaimed Boeing 747-200Fs that have been abandoned on the tarmac at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia deepens further. Two airlines were quick to deny ownership of the aircraft after online sleuths took to the internet to try and trace the owners.

Several social media savvy 'detectives' believed that they had traced the owner of the Boeings after googling their registration numbers that were published in a newspaper advertisement by airport operator Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd. They were also curious why the airport operator had trouble tracing the owners.

Air Atlanta Icelandic has said that it has "nothing to do" with the three unclaimed aircraft, pointing out that they were de-registered and returned to their owner in 2010. Baldvin M. Hermannsson, the airlines' Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing said: "The aircraft bearing the registration mark TF-ARM, TF-ARN, TF-ARH, which are currently parked in Malaysia, were operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic until 2010 when they were returned to its owner."

Hermannsson continued: "Air Atlanta does not have any knowledge of who the current owner of these aircraft is today, and has nothing to do with these aircraft today." He did not say who the aircraft was handed over to in 2010.

The three planes were de-registered from the Registry of the Icelandic Civil Aviation Authority. TF-ARM and TF-ARN were de-registered on 3 January 2012 and TF-ARH was de-registered on 9 June 2011. "No one seems to have painted over the registration marks since then," Hermannsson noted.

Malaysia Airlines was also quick to deny owning any of the aircraft. An airline media relations officer said: "If it was ours, we would have claimed it." Malaysia Airlines' Cargo division, MasKargo had leased two of the planes from Air Atlanta Icelandic.

Airport operator says unable to contact aircraft owner

Zainol Mohd Isa, the general manager of Malaysia Airports said that the three aircraft have been on the KLIA tarmac for more than a year. He however declined to reveal how much in parking fees and other charges were owed to the airport operator.

"We have been in communication with the so-called owner, but they have not been responding to take away the aircraft. That's why we go through this process to legalise whatever actions we want to take," Zainol clarified.

He told AFP: "I don't know why they are not responding [to us]. There could be many reasons. Sometimes it could be because they have no money to continue operations."

"We want to clear the area, we want to utilise our parking bay," he added. Malaysia Airports said in a statement that the newspaper advertisement was a means of giving notice to the owner and that it was a common process undertaken by airport operators around the world.

It said it was a step in the process of debt recovery, especially if the company concerned had ceased operations and is a foreign entity. Malaysia Airports said that "exhaustive steps" were taken to find a contact person but it had not been successful.

The funds raised from the sale of the aircraft would be used to offset any expenses and debts owned to the airport operator. The advertisement placed in an English and a Chinese national newspaper on 7 December serves as a notice to the owner that the planes may be sold if they are not collected within 14 days.