Emptier skies: New data shows that nearly 7,000 aircraft have been stored

Mar 25, 2020

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It’s no shock that the airline industry has especially struggled to cope with the decrease in demand amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Airlines around the world have been forced to cut capacity, with some even suspending their entire operations. And it’s the pace at which airlines are taking to grounding operations that has truly been astounding.

As with most things with the coronavirus, developments have been coming fast. News and advisories seem to change every day — and that appears to be holding true even with airlines.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 21: A grounded fleet of British Airway planes sit on the runway at Glasgow Airport on March 21, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to at least 186 countries, claiming nearly 12,000 lives and infecting more than 286,000 people. There have now been 3,983 diagnosed cases in the UK and 177 deaths. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

According to new information from data and analytics firm Cirium, nearly 7,000 aircraft from global airlines have already been stored to ride out the rest of the coronavirus outbreak. As countries continue to close their borders and travellers opt to stay home, significant portions of fleets have already been grounded.

In the past 24 hours, the number of grounded aircraft grew by 800, according to Cirium, which now reports 6,639 aircraft in storage globally.

For Boeing aircraft, Cirium says that 2,542 aircraft are grounded, including the previously grounded 737 MAX aircraft — 1,671 narrow-body and 871 wide-body aircraft. Altogether, each variation of aircraft breaks down as follows:

Aircraft Number in storage globally
Boeing 717s 45
Boeing 727s 6
Boeing 737 MAXs 383
Boeing 737s (-200, -300, -400, -500, -600, -700, -800 and -900) 1,087
Boeing 747s 108
Boeing 757s 150
Boeing 767s 154
Boeing 777s 376
Boeing 787s 233

Meanwhile, there are 2,608 Airbus aircraft grounded globally — 1,837 narrow-bodies and 771 wide-bodies. The number of aircraft in storage breaks down as follows:

Aircraft Number in storage globally
Airbus A220s 33
Airbus A300s 11
Airbus A310s 8
Airbus A318s 23
Airbus A319s 338
Airbus A320s 948
Airbus A320neos 112
Airbus A321s 325
Airbus A321neos 58
Airbus A330s 467
Airbus A330neos 18
Airbus A340s 117
Airbus A350s 66
Airbus A380s 84

The aircraft are stored all over the world at around 600 locations. For British Airways, that means predominantly at its base at London Heathrow for its wide-bodies, as well as Manchester and Cardiff. It’s narrow-bodies — specifcally A321s — are, for the most part, in Glasgow. Meanwhile, for Virgin Atlantic, most of its aircraft are in Bournemouth, Glasgow Preswick, Glasgow or London Heathrow.

On Monday, Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget airline announced that it was completely ending commercial operations until at least June. While it’s still flying some aircraft for repatriation and humanitarian efforts, as of Wednesday, all commercial flights have been suspended. At points on Wednesday, we got a look at Europe’s skies with just two Ryanair aircraft airborne.

(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)
(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)

It’s likely that the astounding pace at which airlines are parking their aircraft will continue for the weeks and potentially months to come. During parts of April, Virgin Atlantic only expects to operate six aircraft at a time.

Featured photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

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