Icelandair To Store 737 MAX Jets In Toulouse To Escape The Harsh Icelandic Winter

Tens of millions of people travel somewhere warm every year during their winter vacations. However, you don’t often hear about aircraft themselves getting their own winter getaway experiences. In this case, Icelandair’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft will be flying to the south of France for storage this week. The reason for this southern migration: The warmer climate will protect them from the harsh seasonal weather of Iceland which could otherwise damage the planes.
Icelandair has suspended numerous routes due to the inability to operate its MAX jets. Photo: Boeing

Nothing to fear

Icelandair’s five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes will be flown to Toulouse, France for storage this week. Ironically, the southern French destination is the headquarters for Boeing arch-rival Airbus.

Iceland Review reports that Þórarinn Hjálmarsson is one of the four pilots assigned to the task. Hjálmarsson spoke with Icelandic media outlet Vísir, saying that there’s nothing to fear as he prepares to fly the banned aircraft. In fact, strict conditions must be met to fly the planes across Europe, says Hjálmarsson:

“We need to fly with the wing flaps out, as little as possible. We need to go at a lower speed and we need to be at a lower altitude than usual.”
With these conditions, Hjálmarssona says that a crash similar to what took place in Ethiopia and Indonesia is “just not possible”. Furthermore, the Iceland Review adds that pilots have been training in a flight simulator in preparation for the journey.
This particular trip will take two hours longer than normal because the planes are not authorized to exceed an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Icelandair 737 MAX
Icelandair has taken its 737 MAX off the schedule until 2020 despite possible early return. Photo: Icelandair

Other 737 MAX storage destinations

Late last month, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) received an application from Singaporean airline SilkAir to fly its 737 MAX fleet out to a desert aircraft storage facility close to Alice Springs. The Australian Outback is an arid, dry, and expansive region – perfect for avoiding moisture that damages aircraft components.

American Airlines’ MAX aircraft have been in storage in Roswell, New Mexico – another arid region. However, these planes are on the move as American Airlines has started to ferry these aircraft to their maintenance facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The airline’s biggest maintenance base exists there, with over 5,000 employees ready to bring any of American’s fleet back online. The facility also has additional technologies that are not available in Roswell.

United has chosen to move all 14 of its Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft into long term storage in Goodyear, Arizona. Goodyear is located just outside of Phoenix. Again, this area has been selected for its incredibly dry air that allows aircraft to be stored ‘in-the-elements’ without receiving damage over time.

Finally, Southwest Airlines has its jets at the Southern California Logistics Airport facility in Victorville, in the heart of the Mojave Desert.


Icelandair has five 737 MAX aircraft heading to Toulouse. Photo: Icelandair

As the 737 MAX re-certification process drags on, long-term aircraft storage facilities will continue to fill up. Boeing is even storing some of its aircraft in employee car parking lots. Its storage facilities in Washington are at capacity.

We’ve reached out to Icelandair for comment on this move. However, they have not responded to our enquiry yet. We will update this article if there is a response.