The plane carrying the missing footballer Emiliano Sala was based at Gamston airport near Retford

Flowers layed under a portrait of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala (LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers layed under a portrait of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala (LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

The plane carrying missing footballer Emiliano Sala was reportedly based in Retford.

The private aircraft carrying the 28-year-old went missing shortly after his new team, Cardiff City, had spent a club-record fee of £15 million to sign the Argentinian striker from French club FC Nantes.

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu left Nantes for Cardiff at 7.15pm on Monday, January 21.

The flight’s pilot, Dave Ibbotson, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, requested to descend during the flight before losing contact with air traffic control in Jersey.

A spokesman for Gamston Airport said: “Retford (Gamston) Airport is aware of the Piper Malibu aircraft which went missing off the coast of Guernsey on Monday, January 21.

“Along with the footballing nation our thoughts are with the family of the missing footballer Emiliano Sala.

“Our thoughts are also very much with the family and loved ones of the missing pilot who was also in the aircraft.

“We respect the privacy of both families at this unimaginably difficult time for them.

“The airport has been contacted by the Air Accident Investigation Board and we will assist them with their inquiry in whatever way possible that we are asked to.

“We await news from the ongoing search and rescue operation, Guernsey Police and all those involved in locating the missing aircraft, passenger and pilot.

“The airport has no further comment to make at this time.”

A statement from Harbour Master, Captain David Barker, said: “Despite the best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, which has covered an area of approximately 1,700 square miles - with a significant amount of this searched more than once - and having examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery, we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot or the passenger.

“This has been a very thorough and extensive search and has seen exemplary co-operation from all countries involved, for which I would like to extend my personal thanks.”