Almost Two Thirds Of Passenger Aircraft Are Still Grounded

According to new data released by analytics experts Cirium, almost two-thirds of the global passenger aircraft fleet is still grounded. However, it is not all bad news as 2,600 aircraft have been taken out of storage since the start of March.

Just under two-thirds of the global aircraft fleet is currently stored. Photo: Qantas News Room

Airlines around the world have been forced to ground aircraft as they no longer need to operate their full schedules. According to Cirium, this meant that just around 13,700 of the world’s passenger aircraft were still grounded on the 4th of May.

However, as the industry begins to show the green shoots of recovery, airlines face the challenge of reactivating their fleets as needed or deciding which aircraft won’t return to skies once more.

According to aviation data analytics experts Cirium, the aviation industry is beginning to show the green shoots of recovery. The number of active aircraft is down by 74% compared to this time last year. However, in the week from the 27th of April to the 4th of May, the number of aircraft operational has increased by 6%.

Lufthansa, Grounded Aircraft, Frankfurt
The industry is starting to show the green shoots of recovery. Photo: Oliver Roesler – Lufthansa

China, which was the original epicenter of the current crisis, has so far seen one of the most significant recoveries of any national industry. Indeed, according to Cirium’s analysis, 30% of capacity has now returned to the Chinese domestic market.

What about the parked aircraft?

Just under two-thirds of the world’s passenger aircraft remained grounded as of the 4th of April, according to Cirium. To be precise, 62% of the fleet, equating to around 13,700 aircraft.

There appear to be several aircraft storage hotspots. Indeed, 23% of the world’s grounded passenger aircraft are stored across just 20 locations. This figure rises to 27% when the aircraft’s values are taken into account.

Grounded Aircraft, Passenger Aircraft, Schedule Recovery
The top ten aircraft storage locations, according to Cirium. Graph: Cirium

Of all the airports, Roswell International Air Center has the highest number of stored aircraft, around 375 aircraft. The top three storage airports by their number of stored aircraft are all in the United States.

Widebody aircraft are currently in higher demand than narrowbodies. Cirium measured that usage of single-aisle aircraft has dropped by 43%. However, widebody aircraft utilization has dropped by a slightly smaller 29% since the 1st of January.

720+ in the UK

The analytics expert has measured that over 720 aircraft are currently grounded in the United Kingdom. The value of aircraft stored in the UK clocks in at over US$16.7 billion. Just under 50% of these stored aircraft are currently residing at London airports.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Aircraft Graveyard
Many British Airways aircraft are currently grounded in Bournemouth. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, 6.47% of the UK’s stored aircraft are parked up at Bournemouth in the southwest of England. A majority of these aircraft are short-and-long-haul aircraft from British Airways that are not currently in use. This includes one of the airline’s retro jets in the airline’s former Landor livery.

Have you seen any stored aircraft around the world? Let us know where and when in the comments below.

Aviation data analytics experts, Cirium kindly provided all data used in this article.