A Boeing 767 widebody jet grounded for years not for technical issues but due to its former owner’s financial troubles is now awaiting a new buyer to enable it to take to the skies again. This comes as the operator of Hong Kong International Airport puts it up for auction, with a reserve price of less than US$800,000.
To put that figure in perspective, a new 767 configured for carrying more than 350 passengers will set a buyer back about US$218 million.
The ill-fated 27-year-old plane has been stranded in Hong Kong, abandoned in the international airport’s maintenance hangars for four years since its owner, Russian airline Transaero, once the nation’s largest private carrier, stopped flying in October 2015 after becoming insolvent.
The Airport Authority Hong Kong noted in its tender invitation that the plane had no maintenance records and was most certainly not in mint condition. A successful bidder will be required to remove the aircraft within three months, whether as a whole or in parts.
Aviation experts say the asking price could be above scrap value and some buyers may find the prospect not worth the trouble, given that it is in disrepair as well as its lack of documentation. However the jet may be able to resume flying as a cargo plane, if its documents can be retraced or reestablished for recertification.
The 767 now up for sale took off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport for Hong Kong operating as flight UN965 and touched down a day after the airline’s operating licence was revoked. This made it Transaero’s last flight, according to the South China Morning Post. The aircraft has been impounded ever since, as the airport detained it as collateral over the non-payment of parking fees that amount to millions of Hong Kong dollars.
The 767 is not the only jet sitting on Hong Kong airport’s tarmac with its future unknown.
A Boeing 747 jumbo jet once in service with budget carrier Orient Thai is also waylaid there, after the debt-laden airline failed to pay for aeronautical fees and maintenance work, thought to be a six-figure sum in US dollars, and cancelled its flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok in early 2016.
Media reports back then noted that the double-decker plane was left engineless after Orient Thai defaulted on payment in the middle of engine maintenance work.