A total of 22 aircraft were scrapped at Teruel Airport in 2020. The figure was the highest recorded by the TARMAC Aerosystems facility since it opened in 2014. While it was a record-breaking year for the airport, the 12 Airbus A380s resident at the facility are safe for the time being.
2020 wasn’t a great year for many in aviation. However, for a few niches in the aviation industry, the pandemic did have a benefit. Cargo demand saw a surge as the belly space of grounded airliners was lost. Additionally, these grounded planes needed to go somewhere, driving a huge boost for aircraft storage facilities. Teruel, loving called an ‘aircraft nursery’ by its owners, is one of the latter.
Dismantling the Queen of the Skies
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have been the final nail in the coffin when it came to the widespread retirement of the Queen of the Skies. Many airlines, such as British Airways, had already decided to retire the Boeing 747 well ahead of the current crisis.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
With these aircraft already on the cards to disappear, they were the obvious choice when capacity needed to be cut permanently. According to Spanish language publication Heraldo, eight Queens were dismantled in Teruel during 2020. The remaining aircraft recycled were A340s, A330s, and A320s.
For comparison, from 2014 to 2019, the plant dismantled 33 aircraft. The company currently employes 37 workers, meaning that the facility could handle scrapping up to 30 aircraft each year. Of each aircraft around 6% can’t be recycled or reused. The remaining 94% is reused or recycled, with around 1,500-2,000 spare parts for other aircraft coming from each scrapped airframe.
A380s are safe – for now
One of the defining moments for Teruel Airport in 2020 was the arrival of the Airbus A380s. Initially there were seven from Lufthansa, alongside two from Air France. In early December, Simple Flying reported that British Airways had ferried three Airbus A380s to the facility.
All in all, there are currently 12 A380s at Teruel, with further aircraft to follow from Lufthansa. However, for the time being, these aircraft won’t be facing the same fate as some of their neighbors. According to Heraldo the site’s director, Pedro Saez, commented that he has received no orders to proceed with the recycling of these giants.
With the A380s safeguarded, at least for now, they will remain with the other aircraft resting their wings in long term storage at the site. Currently, 112 aircraft are parked in the long-stay parking facility. This is just eight aircraft shy of the facility’s current capacity at 120 aircraft. However, TARMAC is currently pouring 40,000 cubic meters of concrete to expand the facility. This will see the aircraft capacity grow to a total of 140 large aircraft.
What do you make of Teruel’s record breaking year for scrapping aircraft? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!