As the coronavirus continues to ground airline fleets around the world, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is turning Schiphol blue, having taken the majority of its aircraft out of service. Today, rather than Amsterdam’s airport full of people, all that can be seen are the Dutch carrier’s aircraft. In what would appear to be a logistics nightmare, planes are parked up on every inch of available space, including one of Schiphol’s six runways.
KLM is now operating a small fleet
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has many people around the world on lockdown, KLM has started its summer schedule with a limited number of aircraft. Until the coronavirus crisis has passed, KLM has decided to park its largest aircraft at its home base of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).
All of KLM’s Boeing 777-200s, Airbus A330s, and its last remaining 747s have been parked where ever there is space. The Netherland’s national flag carrier has also removed from service many of its regional aircraft such as the Boeing 737, and the Embraer 175s and 190s that it operates to destinations within Europe.
Empty lounges and walkways, closed piers and quiet gates… you have never seen Schiphol quite like this. pic.twitter.com/DwVYlUTKsD
— Schiphol (@Schiphol) April 6, 2020
KLM is retiring its 747s earlier than planned
Before the coronavirus started to spread from one nation to another, KLM had planned to keep flying its Boeing 747s until 2021, but now with nowhere to go, the 100-year-old airline has prematurely retired its remaining Jumbo Jets from service.
The airline has said that after the COVID-19 crisis is over, the “Queens of the Skies” will be given the appropriate send-off before being flown to their final destination.
Parking planes at Schiphol
When all is said and done, KLM will have a total of more than 200 aircraft parked-up at Schiphol Airport, which thankfully is big enough to accommodate so many grounded planes. All of the gates not in use and the now-closed Aalsmeer Runway will be used to store aircraft.
Because not every gate or parking stand is suitable for every type of aircraft, it is proving to be a challenge fitting the right plane in the right place. The main factor is, of course, the size of the aircraft, as planes need not to block one another so that, when the time comes, they can be moved around easily.
One of the criteria in parking-up planes is that enough space is left between them so that maintenance can be carried out efficiently. Another consideration when grounding aircraft for a limited time is to ensure that they are protected from the elements. The grounded aircraft also need to remain airworthy so that when the time is right they can be returned to service as quickly as possible.
In an article published on KLM’s blog, the airline says that it is keeping a close eye on all of its parked planes and that once the green light is given, the blue birds will be more than ready to take to the skies again.