Old aircraft grounded at airports endlessly awaiting removal after auction

There are 12 unauctioned planes in Brazilian airports, but dozens of

Published in 24/04/2017 - 11:17 By Wellton Máximo reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Carcaças de aviões

In Brasília, two TransBrasil Boeing 767 jets auctioned in September 2013 are still waiting to be collected.Welton Máximo/Agência Brasil

A common sight strikes the eyes of passengers in airports throughout Brazil: old aircraft that belonged to bankrupt airlines share the ground with on-duty planes and wear out in the weather. Some of these retired planes have never been auctioned. Others were auctioned years ago, but are still waiting for their new owners to take them away. The owners, in turn, cite the high transport costs and business shifts as the main reasons for the delays in picking them up.

Agência Brasil found out there are auctioned planes awaiting removal in at least three airports—two planes at Juscelino Kubitschek in Brasília (BSB), four at Tom Jobim International Airport in Rio (GIG), and two at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo (GRU). They should have been picked up already, but instead they continue to take up airport ground or hangar space.

At Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport in Brasília, two TransBrasil Boeing 767 jets auctioned in September 2013 are still waiting to be collected. TransBrasil was a Brazilian airline that went bankrupt in 2002. The consortium that operates Guarulhos airport has not disclosed details of the aircraft models or airlines, reporting merely that one of them was bought by the state-owned Brazilian Airport Infrastructure Corporation (INFRAERO), and the other one, by a private party.

The administration of the Tom Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro reported it has one VASP plane and six other old aircraft grounded. (VASP was another Brazilian airline that filed for bankrupcy in 2008.) The airport administration provided no details as to what companies owned the other planes, but said it was not TransBrasil.

According to a survey conducted by the National Council of Justice (CNJ), three of the planes resting at Galeão have not been auctioned yet. The other four are in the process of removal.


The CNJ ran a program between 2011 and 2015 called Espaço Livre (Free Space), designed to expedite auctions of 50 out of 62 idle airplanes parked at 11 Brazilian airports. The initiative, a collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, the National Public Prosecution Council, the Federal Court of Audits, the Court of Justice of São Paulo, the Prosecution Service of São Paulo, the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and INFRAERO, succeeded in auctioning 80% of the abandoned aircraft. Not all of them, however, have been collected so far.

Gustavo Henrique Sauer, the lawyer who acts as a trustee for TransBrasil's bankruptcy estate, says the winning bids for its auctioned items so far have all been paid in full. Regarding the two jets at Brasília airport, he said they were part of the bankruptcy estate of Interbrasil, another subsidiary of the same holding. However, he explains, once the auctioned items have been paid for, responsibility for the aircraft removal lies with the airport and the buyer.

For Sauer, poor planning on the buyer's end leads to prolonged aircraft abandonment and ends up in new legal battles. “In some cases, the aircraft buyer won't understand the aircraft was auctioned as scrap and can't be used for other purposes. The owner then picks up its parts, but leaves the airframe. If no agreement is reached, the airport may seek legal remedies to have the aircraft removed from its ground,” he explained.


Rogério Tokarski, a businessman who bought a Boeing 737 from VASP and a Boeing 767 from TransBrasil at Brasília airport, says expensive transport poses further hurdles—it may cost at least as much as the plane itself. In the case of the smaller 737, he spent $19,000 to buy the aircraft, plus another $19,000 to have it removed to a farm in the rural area of Planaltina, a town located 70 km away from Brasília.

“It takes three trailers to carry the plane: one for each wing, and another one for the body, not to mention cranes for to dismantle it and the special cargo charges paid to the highway authority and the charges to have power lines disconnected,” he said.

Regarding the jet he bought from Transbrasil for about $29,000, Tokarski says he asked Inframérica, the consortium that manages Brasília airport, for more time to have it removed. He is planning to turn the carcass into a tourist attraction, but said the need to come up with a feasible business plan and find a profitable location has delayed the removal.

The owner of the other TransBrasil jet grounded at Brasília airport could not be reached for comment.

Unauctioned aircraft

According to the CNJ, there are 12 unauctioned aircraft at Brazilian airports. Seven of them are at Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus (MAO), three at Galeão, one at Viracopos Airport in Campinas, São Paulo (VCP) and one at Antônio João Airport in Campo Grande (CGR).

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Old aircraft grounded at airports endlessly awaiting removal after auction

Edition: Lílian Beraldo / José Romildo

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