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Who owns the “ghost plane” in Madrid’s Barajas airport?

The aircraft has been abandoned for years and will be sold if the owner does not claim it

avion abandonado Barajas
The abandoned MD-87 at Barajas airport.

Someone has parked an airplane at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Barajas airport and left it there. The McDonnel Douglas MD-87, an aircraft connected to a series of failed businesses, which is showing the toll of years of inaction, is currently sealed off on the airfield. It has not been moved for years, like a ghost made of aluminum, copper and titanium.

The McDonnell Douglas MD87 is currently the only abandoned aircraft at Barajas

To find out if anyone wants to claim it, the director of Madrid-Barajas airport, Elena Mayoral, signed a notice this past Friday in the Official State Gazette (BOE) in which she reported the aircraft, its license plate EC KRV, and its “obvious state of abandonment.”

When a plane is stationed at an airport for an extended period of time and displays external signs of having been abandoned, the Aircraft Registration Registry of Spain's Air Security Agency (AESA) and the Central Property Registry are consulted to investigate whether there has been a change of ownership, and to locate the last registered owner, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

The last registered owner is sent an official request to pay the amount of the existing debt for the prolonged parking fee. If the amount due is not paid, procedures are initiated with the Spanish Tax Agency. These proceedings continue until the sum is voluntarily paid or the Tax Agency begins enforced collection procedures.

If the owner does not respond, or if it is discovered that they have disappeared – in the case of death without heirs, liquidation or company closure – three notices are published in the BOE in three consecutive months, each indicating the aircraft registration, the model and the brand, as well as its state of abandonment. Once a year has passed since the last notice is published, the airplane is legally considered abandoned and can be put up for public auction.

Proceedings have begun to put the airplane up for public auction

According to the Spanish airport authority AENA, the McDonnell Douglas MD87 is currently the only abandoned aircraft at Barajas airport. In 1990, the airplane flew for the first time for Iberia, according to online magazine Preferente.com. Eighteen years later it was acquired by Pronair, a charter airline headquartered in Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha. But the airline, which at one point was flying regularly to China, closed down in just a year due to the increase in fuel prices and the 2008 financial crisis.

Two years later, the plane was acquired by Saicus Air, a Spanish airline based in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The airline operated two airplanes from Madrid and up until that point, had been dedicated to transporting cargo. The plane was meant to fly passengers between Spain and the Republic of Guinea Bissau in west Africa. But it never flew for Saicus Air. Instead it was rented to third parties along with a cabin crew. Saicus Air bought the plan in July 2010, and in December of that same year, it too had gone bankrupt.

Someone then sealed off its motors, pilot-static system, Pitot tubes and the rest of its openings. Since then it has been waiting for an owner – one who is yet to appear.

English version by Asia London Palomba.

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