x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fujairah aims to be international centre for recycling planes

Forget abandoned cars at the airport. In Fujairah the problem facing officials is abandoned planes.

Fujairah aims to become an international centre for the recycling of planes. Courtesy Falcon Airside
Fujairah aims to become an international centre for the recycling of planes. Courtesy Falcon Airside

Forget abandoned cars at the airport, in Fujairah the problem facing officials is abandoned planes.

A new company will start picking through the fuselages and engines of passenger jets left at Fujairah International Airport next month in the first venture of its kind in the region.

"A lot of aircraft have been abandoned here over the years and they eventually become the property of the airport," said Charles Hajdu, the airport's business development manager. It has already been granted legal ownership of four planes.

As many as 30 planes have been left at Fujairah International Airport over the years after their owners went bust or the aircraft themselves failed safety standard tests, which prevented them from being flown out. They include Antonov planes once used to fly between the Emirates and Afghanistan. Cheap aircraft parking fees at Fujairah have made it a popular choice among such carriers - so much so that some have decided to park their planes there indefinitely.

"After two or three years it becomes questionable if they will ever be brought back to service. There comes a point where it is no longer viable," said Mr Hajdu.

Now a company has been established in the emirate to recycle them and salvage everything from seat-belt buckles to engine parts as well precious metals that include gold and palladium.

"This business is not about scrapping aircraft," said Ian French, the chief operations officer at Falcon Aircraft Recycling. "It is about a totally managed process of aircraft dismantling and separation of the waste streams into a range of recoverable materials."

Fujairah International Airport was built to handle as many as 2 million passengers a year, but only 13,107 people passed through it last year as more passengers and cargo transited through Dubai instead.

Now Fujairah airport officials hope to attract new business such as the new recycling venture to generate revenue streams in the face of rising competition.

Before the planes can be dismantled, a court needs to determine who is their rightful owner, said Mr Hajdu.

The ultimate aim is for Fujairah to become an international centre for the recycling of planes after they come to the end of their service life.

 

scronin@thenational.ae