Creditors slap writs on abandoned Saudi jet

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is not the usual abandoned vehicle, although there are a couple of notices slapped on to its windscreen and a search is under way for its owners. This one is accruing parking fines of pounds 8,000 a month.

Unlike the usual burnt-out Escort, the Saudi luxury jet impounded at Kent International Airport (KIA) in Manston has two bedrooms, a fine bath- room and pounds 2m worth of fittings. Creditors were yesterday attempting to trace the owners of the pounds 1.5m Boeing 707 whose crew vanished leaving a trail of debts after landing in September.

Fifteen creditors have taped writs to the door demanding about pounds 100,000. A High Court warrant dated 10 January says the plane has been seized by the Sheriff of Kent and must not be moved without his permission.

The commercial manager at KIA, David Hedges, said: "We are owed about pounds 12,000. That covers landing fees, storage and various other services. We are not the only business trying to get our money from a company called Al Wizzar.

"Normally the crew of this jet - which is basically someone's plaything - flies in, carries out its business and pays in either cash or travellers' cheques ... then flies off. But this time, for some reason, the crew has not bothered to come back. It's very mysterious." He said the aircraft would be sold if the bills were not paid.

Even if the owners ignored the writs, they could not sneak back and fly off - KIA has removed some take-off equipment.

At Heathrow, staff could only remember one recent case in which an aircraft was impounded. According to the head of one airport, who did not wish to be named, the case of the abandoned Boeing was fairly unusual. "The people who run these planes run the world," he said. "They're not likely to be worried about the cost."

Perhaps the owners have simply forgotten it, like the actor Richard Harris, who recently discovered from an old photograph that he owned a Rolls-Royce. A call to his accountant informed him that the car was indeed his, and had been garaged in New York since 1974 - at a cost of around pounds 61,000.