There’s no way of getting around it – the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on. With the crisis continuing, we are seeing the continued depression and downturn of the air travel sector. While some airlines were and still are able to store their aircraft on closed runways and taxiways of their home airports, other carriers are having to take their aircraft to storage sites in arid regions found in various corners of our planet.
“The past month has been unlike any month I’ve ever seen…And this is just the beginning. My personal opinion: I think it’s going to get a lot worse.” -Dave Bixler, Jet Yard aircraft storage and maintenance
In this article, we’ll look at three particular sites where airlines are storing their aircraft. Ideally, all sites must have the following characteristics in order to facilitate aircraft parking:
- A dry climate to inhibit corrosion
- Ample space to accommodate large aircraft
- Solid ground to support the immense weight of these jets
The American Southwest
Encompassing areas in California and Arizona, you will find several sites for aircraft storage in the American southwest. Sites include Pinal Airpark and Kingman Municipal Airport in Arizona. In California, you’ll find the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) and the Mojave Air & Space Port.
By far one of the largest facilities for aircraft parking and storage is Pinal Airpark- a county-owned, public-use airport located in Marana, northwest of Tuscon, Arizona. Its primary function serves as a boneyard for civilian aircraft. Here, there is capacity for 400 aircraft.
“The balloon isn’t ready to pop yet, but it’s getting pretty big. We can still push it. Until every square inch is used, it’s not full.” -Jim Petty, Pinal County’s airport economic development director via Skift/AP
Skift reports that aircraft parked at Pinal Airpark come from airlines such as Delta, Air Canada and JetBlue, which also has 20 planes parked at nearby Marana Regional Airport.
Alice Springs, Australia
Just yesterday we saw four Singapore Airlines A380s make their way to Alice Springs Airport (ASP). Located here, in the geographical heart of Australia, is APAS – Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage.
So far we know that some of the Singapore Airlines fleet is parked here. Beyond the recent addition of its A380s, we also know a Boeing 777 arrived as well. They join the airline’s 737 MAX jets (SilkAir livery) that have been parked here for over six months as a result of the MAX grounding.
Depending on the anticipated duration of this crisis, we could see more Southeast Asian and Australian airlines park their jets here. This is because much (if not all) of Southeast Asia is temperate and humid and therefore horrible for parked aircraft. Furthermore, jets parked at the airports of Australia’s coastal cities will also be dealing with more humidity than they would experience in the country’s center.
And for European airlines, Spain’s Teruel Airport is a storage and recycling facility for airliners. According to Airplane Boneyards, is also supports maintenance and servicing operations and can handle 250 large aircraft.
So far, we know that the following airlines have sent the following aircraft to Teruel:
- Air France – A380s – these may or may not be fully retired
- Austrian’s retired A340s
- Lufthansa’s retired A340 fleet
- KLM’s retired 747s
- British Airways’ 747s (the airline’s A380s are parked in Châteauroux)
As mentioned by some of the staff working in the American facilities, this seems like its just the beginning. It will be quite interesting to see if there is enough “supply” for the peak demand that some are anticipating.
Do you think we’ll run out of space at the world’s long-term storage facilities for all of these aircraft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.