Grounded Airliners in Storage During the COVID-19 Pandemic Outbreak


Fluctuations in the world economy can force airlines to temporarily store their jetliners until their return to active service. And global events such as the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 can ground airline fleets.

Airliners in storage at Pinal Airpark in Arizona
Airliners in storage at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona

All commercial airliners have limited lifespans due to airframe wear and/or obsolescence. Ultimately, they must be retired from service, stored in "airplane boneyards" or graveyards, and finally dismantled and scrapped. Others are kept for spare parts for flying aircraft.

Some jetliners are temporarily taken off flying status, and must be stored in a environment that is conducive for preservation until a return to service.

To protect airliners during long-term storage from wind and sun damage, engines and windows are tightly covered with white, reflective materials. A sealed airliner can thus be stored safely, for years, until the time comes to return it to active duty, or salvage.

Airliner boneyards & storage facilities in the western USA serve several functions: temporary storage, maintenance, parts reclamation, and scrapping.

Similar facilities exist around the world at airplane boneyards in Europe and Australia.

Airliner Storage During the COVID-19 Outbreak in 2020

As anyone that flies, has ties to the aviation industry, or watches TV knows, the worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus in the spring of 2020 has had a major negative impact on airlines and their fleets, worldwide.

Thousands of airliners have been placed in storage around the world. Estimates are that nearly 17,000 airliners have been idled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Panoramic view of airliners in storage at the Teruel Airport in Spain
Panoramic view of airliners in storage at the Teruel Airport in Spain

 

Major air carriers such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, British Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and others have had to eliminate flights due to lack of demand, and store hundreds of jetliners until their return to service.

Permanent Retirement

Permanent retirements of some older aircraft such as Boeing 757s and 767s, MD-88s, Airbus A340-600s, and Airbus A380s have been accelerated during 2020. Airliner retirements slated for 2021 or beyond have been moved forward to now.

Temporary Storage at Active Airports

Airliners in temporary storage

Many airliners are being stored at airports in the United States such as Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Atlanta, SkyHarbor in Phoenix, Mobile, San Antonio and Birmingham. In some locales runways and taxiways have been converted to parking areas.

In Europe, airliners are being parked at airports in Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Paris Vienna, and London, among others.

Other airports around the world at which aircraft are parked include Seoul, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Delhi.

 

Aerial view of Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleet in temporary storage at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville
Aerial view of the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s in temporary storage at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville.

Long-term Storage at U.S. Boneyards

Other airliners are being sent to full-scale storage facilities such as these in the United States.:

Pinal Airpark in Arizona

 

Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville

 

Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico

 

Mojave Airport in California

 

Blytheville Arkansas International Airport

Long-term Storage in Europe & Worldwide

Airliners in storage at the Cotswold Airport

Longer-term and temporary parking facilities in Europe and Australia are also providing storage services to the airlines:

Teruel Airport in Spain

Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees Airport in France

Chateauroux Airport in France

Cotswold Airport in the U.K.

St. Athan Airfield in Wales

Ireland West Airport Knock

Twente Airport in The Netherlands

Alice Springs Airport in Australia

Overhead view of dozens of airliners parked at the TARMAC Aerosave facility at the Teruel Airport in Spain (photo courtesy of TARMAC Aerosave)
Overhead view of dozens of airliners parked at the TARMAC Aerosave facility at the Teruel Airport

 

 

British Airways Airbus A380s in storage at the Chateauroux Airport in central France

British Airways Airbus A380s in storage at the Chateauroux Airport

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 Mülheim a.d. Ruhr parked on the main apron of Twente Airport in the Netherlands
(Photo courtesy of Niek van der Zande Photography)

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 Mülheim a.d. Ruhr parked on the main apron of Twente Airport

Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage at the Alice Springs Airport in Australia (photo courtesy of APAS)
Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage at Alice Springs Airport in Australia

 

 

 

Where Airliners Go to Die ... and Be Recycled

Special Report: How Airliners Are Scrapped and Recycled

Are You an Airliner Spotter?

Identification of individual aircraft manufacturers and airliners can be difficult with the wide variety of jet airliners in service around the world.

Our new website features Spotting Guides and photographs of common jet airliners in the fleets of airlines today. We focus on jet airliners from Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier, even Antonov.

AirlinerSpotter.com

Spotting Guides for Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and Bombardier jet airliners

 

Map of locations of major airplane boneyards and storage facilities Around the World

click to view interactive map of airplane boneyards and aircraft storage facilities in the United States and around the world


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