Once an airplane lands at a major airport, it typically takes off again after a few hours, perhaps staying overnight or a little longer if entering maintenance. However, occasionally this is pushed to the extreme, as is the case with a couple of McDonnell Douglas aircraft in Spain that have been taking up space at Madrid and Barcelona airport for over a decade.
It’s very unusual for an aircraft to be abandoned. However, this does occur from time to time. Indeed, Simple Flying recently covered the story of an MD-83 still at India’s Raipur Airport five years after an emergency landing. Now we’re turning our attention to Europe.
At Barcelona for over a decade
Two McDonnell Douglas aircraft formerly belonging to Spain’s Pronair have ended up seemingly abandoned at Spanish Airports. The first is currently at Barcelona Airport on Spain’s east coast. The aircraft, registered as EC-KJI, was initially delivered to Iberia in 1990, according to Planespotters.net.
After 17 years with the carrier, the plane transferred across to Pronair, who seemingly operated it for a couple of years. However, Planespotters.net goes on to report that the aircraft hasn’t flown since August 10th, 2009.
Spanish language publication La Vanguardia says that a new carrier was due to take the aircraft. However, a series of legal problems and non-payment of fees meant that it could not depart the airfield.
What about Madrid?
Another MD-87 suffered a similar fate at Madrid Airport, albeit slightly later. Again, this aircraft was delivered to Iberia in 1990. In 2008, this plane was transferred to Pronair before joining Saicus Air in 2009, according to Planespotters.net. The publication reports that this aircraft was withdrawn from use and stored on December 6th, 2010.
In January 2019, Simple Flying reported that this aircraft was at least 15 months away from potentially being scrapped, given the lengthy process that the airport must follow to take possession of the plane. It was not immediately clear if the airport’s owner, AENA, is pursuing this action.
An abandoned plane problem?
However, the problem appears to be much more than just these two aircraft. In December 2019, Simple Flying reported that aircraft operators had abandoned at least 71 aircraft at Spanish airports. This is an improvement on the 99 recorded in 2014.
However, all of these aircraft are racking up parking charges for every day they spend at one of these Spanish airports. Indeed, it is estimated that the aircraft had a combined debt of €2.78 million. One of these aircraft is another Pronair plane, this time a Boeing 747 parked in Valencia. It is also unclear what may have become of this aircraft.
What do you make of Spain’s abandoned aircraft problem? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!