Copenhagen Airport Turns Runways Into Aircraft Parking

The authorities that operate Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup (CPH) have decided that, due to the coronavirus epidemic, two of the airport’s three runways will be allocated to aircraft parking.

SAS airbus getty images
Copenhagen Airport to use two of its runways for aircraft parking. Photo: Getty Images

As airlines cancel flights and ground aircraft due to the coronavirus outbreak, airlines are running out of space to park unused aircraft. The Danish airport operator says that it is expecting to see a “high double-digit” number of aircraft parked at Scandinavia’s busiest airport “before long”, and that the parking issue is a “pressing challenge.”

Only one runway will remain open

Under the runway parking scheme, the Nordic country’s most important airport will keep runway 22L/04R in operation until airlines return to their normal schedules.

As a home base for Scandinavian airline SAS, the airport will play its part in helping the carrier with parking space for its unused aircraft. Just like other airlines around the world, SAS has seen a dramatic decline in passenger numbers following the outbreak of the coronavirus back in January. Now, having gained a foothold in Europe, the coronavirus is responsible for a 70% reduction in passenger numbers at Copenhagen Airport during the first ten days of March.

The coronavirus is a huge challenge

Aviation website FlightGlobal quotes the airport’s chief executive Thomas Woldbye as saying:

“This is something we’ve never seen before, the situation is developing much faster and more dramatically than what happened during the financial crisis, after 9/11, the ash cloud and any other event that has impacted on aviation since the Second World War.”

SAS will suspend most of its operations. Photo: Kallerna via Wikimedia Commons

As a direct effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the airport operating company’s share price, which had remained fairly consistent for the past two years, suddenly started to drop. It has now lost 30% of its value.

With all future investments and plans on hold, the airport hopes to save between five and ten million dollars over the remainder of the year plus a further thirty-six to fifty-one million dollars in operating costs. In a further cost-savings move, the airport expects to furlough more than 1,500 of its 2,600 staff, while at the same time looking to receive help from the Danish government.

As things stand right now, several of the airport’s shops and eateries, mainly in Pier C, have agreed to remain open. However, this could change as passenger numbers continue to decline.

Put on hold will be the airside expansion of Terminal 3 along with upgrades to the airport’s infrastructure that included the installation of solar panels and a new climate control system.

“All safety-related investments will be exempt from the cost-cutting program,” the operator stresses.

With all the uncertainty surrounding how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, the airport operators are at a loss to provide a realistic forecast on the financial implications, the coronavirus will have on its business.

“We have an important responsibility to keep the airport running and making sure that critical flight operations, such as freight, can continue,” says Woldbye.

“Our main priority is to make sure that the initiatives we’re launching now will not have a long-term negative impact on our ability to return quickly to normal operations when we have to.”

Will other airports use runways for parking?

While we all know that airlines are going to be hit hard by the coronavirus, this presents a new challenge in regards to where they will park their unused planes. The use of non-essential runways seems like a logical step and is perhaps something other airports will do now that air traffic has declined so dramatically.

Utilizing unnecessary runways it could alleviate the need for having to relocate planes. Photo: SAS

When the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded airlines flew the MAX to lesser used airports for parking, but by utilizing unnecessary runways it could alleviate the need for having to relocate planes.

What do you think of Copenhagen Airports’ plan? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.