A local newspaper in Hazleton (Pennsylvania) has reported that a luxury twin-engine Rockwell Sabreliner jet parked at the Hazleton Municipal Airport has not paid $625 or five months worth of aircraft parking fees and that the airport manager has responded by ordering fuel trucks to be parked around the aircraft to prevent it from taking off.
That move came after two pilots arrived at the airport with documents showing they were hired to fly the aircraft to St. Louis (Missouri) for refurbishment on behalf of someone in Pittsburgh who had made a $35,000 deposit for the refurbishment.
However, just who owns the aircraft and is thus responsible for paying the airport fees is not exactly unclear. According to FAA records (which are often not be up-to-date), a lawyer bought the aircraft in 2005 for $2.6 million through a corporation formed with a former mayor of the town and apparently the corporation still owns the aircraft with its office address being the same as that of the lawyer’s law firm. The problem is the lawyer is now sitting in prison for paying $2.8 million in bribes to judges and had agreed to forfeit the jet as part of a plea agreement. His law firm has also stated that he has had nothing to do with the jet for two or three years – meaning he has no intention of paying the fees.
Meanwhile, the person in Pittsburgh who attempted to have the jet flown out shares the same last name as a Pittsburgh real estate developer who wants to build a massive airport in the area and whose firm the lawyer is a former principle of while the former mayor of the town still remains a principle of.
As for the jet itself sitting at the Hazleton Municipal Airport, it would not be a good idea for any pilot to try and start a jet engined aircraft surrounded by fuel trucks but it looks like at least the airport has a pretty good shot at collecting those fees! After all, it’s a $2.6 million jet that someone obviously now wants while the fees owed are just $625.