Where Is British Airways Storing Grounded Short Haul Aircraft?

Airlines around the globe have been suspending flights and grounding aircraft. British Airways is one of these airlines. However, how many short-haul aircraft have been grounded, and where have they been parked? Simple Flying investigates.

Where Is British Airways Storing Grounded Short Haul Aircraft?
British Airways has stored a number of aircraft. But how many are stored, and where are they? Photo: Getty Images

How many aircraft have been grounded?

According to FlightRadar24, British Airways has a short-haul fleet of 146 aircraft. We didn’t count the Embraer aircraft operated by subsidiary CityFlyer. This consists of the following types:

  • 1x Airbus A318;
  • 39x Airbus A319;
  • 67x Airbus A320;
  • 12x Airbus A320neo;
  • 18x Airbus A321;
  • 9x Airbus A321neo.
British Airways, Short haul fleet, grounded
Just over half of British Airways’ fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft hasn’t flown in the past two days. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

Simple Flying trawled through FlightRadar24’s data to find how many aircraft have been grounded. We defined grounded as having not flown in the last two days. Future flights were not taken into consideration, as a grounded aircraft could swap places with an operational aircraft.

British Airways, Short haul fleet, grounded
The blue bar indicates the number of aircraft that haven’t flown in the past two days, while the red bar indicates the total number of aircraft. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

When were the aircraft grounded?

Of course, the aircraft haven’t all been grounded at once. In fact, the first two aircraft were sent to Madrid at the end of February and haven’t been flown since. However, it is possible that these two are in for maintenance.

british airways coronavirus
A number of aircraft have ended up parked in Glasgow. Photo: Getty

Around the 6th to the 8th of March, aircraft groundings started to become more frequent. However, everything changed a week ago. From last Monday onwards, the number of aircraft still flying has fallen significantly on most days. The graph below shows how much of the fleet was still flying at each date:

British Airways, Short haul fleet, grounded
The aircraft groundings have begun to increase in number rapidly. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24

Where are these aircraft being stored?

While it would be incredibly easy to just park its whole fleet at Heathrow, the airport only has a finite amount of space. As it remains fully operational, British Airways cannot park aircraft on a runway like Delta Air Lines. As such, it is forced to store some aircraft elsewhere.

British Airways, Short haul fleet, grounded
A large number of aircraft remain at British Airways’ two hub airports. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24

While most have been stored in the United Kingdom, a few have ended up scattered across the continent. Four aircraft have been sent to St Athan. This is where British Airways sends aircraft to be retired, hence these may have reached their fate early. 24 aircraft are split between Bournemouth and Glasgow. Eight Aircraft are in Madrid, which is sister airline Iberia’s main hub. One aircraft is also at each of Brussels and Lyon.

British Airways, City Flyer, Suspension
From today British Airways has suspended its services from London City until at least the 4th of April. Photo: British Airways

But what about if British Airways needs to store further aircraft? There is a patch of land at Manchester Airport where aircraft can be stored, however, this is currently occupied by TUI’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The airport is looking to consolidate operations into one terminal, however. This could potentially leave much more space to park aircraft.

British Airways declined to comment on this story.

Have you seen any British Airways aircraft parked up? Let us know where you spotted them in the comments.

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