Where is British Airways parking its planes during the coronavirus outbreak?

Mar 20, 2020

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Airlines around the world have been forced to ground large portions of their fleets as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. While some airlines have been forced to slash their operating capacity as a result of the decrease in demand and strict government-imposed entry restrictions, others have completely suspended operations. Whatever the case, airlines have been tasked with parking their aircraft. But where do they find the space to do that?

READ MORE: TPG’s hub page for coronavirus coverage

Earlier this week, International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and other airlines, announced that it would be slashing the capacity of its airlines by 75% through May. Currently, British Airways has 277 aircraft in its fleet, split between long-haul wide-bodies such as the A380 and 777, and narrow-body aircraft like the A320 and A321. Plus, it also has those in the short-haul BA CityFlyer fleet, which operates out of London City Airport (LCY).

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So while a number of BA’s flights aren’t currently operating, where is the airline putting all of those planes? Turns out that most of them are being stored in Cardiff or right at BA’s base at Heathrow. Let’s dive into it.

In This Post

British Airways Airbus A380

The airline has 12 A380s in its fleet. One, registered G-XLEA, is currently grounded at London Heathrow Airport, according to tracking the aircraft on FlightRadar24. The other A380 that is already grounded, G-XLEG, is being stored at Manila Airport (MNL) in the Philippines.

As of the time of writing, the airline is still operating the other 10 A380s in its fleet, though that could change in the coming days.

(Image courtesy of Google Earth)
(Image from Google Earth)

British Airways Boeing 747

The other jumbo jet in the British Airways fleet, the Boeing 747, is nearing the end of its life with the carrier. As a result, it’s possible that BA accelerates the full retirement of its fleet of the Queen of the Skies. Some of the aircraft haven’t officially been marked as parked, though they have been sitting at Heathrow for a number of days without operating any commercial flights.

Two of the 747s — G-BYGD and G-CIVZ — are currently parked at Cardiff Airport (CWL). Six other 747s are parked at Heathrow Airport and haven’t operated a passenger flight since March 18.

British Airways Boeing 777

Split between the 777-200 and 777-300 variants, British Airways has a total of 57 in its fleet. According to our data tracking the movement of each of the 777s, seven of the aircraft have been marked as stored or have not operated a commercial flight since March 18.

Three 777s are currently parked at Cardiff Airport (CWL) — G-VIIM, G-VIIN and G-YMMI.

Four additional 777s haven’t operated a commercial flight since at least March 18 and are currently parked at London Heathrow.

(Image from Google Earth)

British Airways Boeing 787

Between the 787-8 and 787-9 variants, British Airways has 30 Dreamliners in its fleet. One of the Dreamliners, a 787-9, has been stored at Cardiff Airport since March 10.

Nine other Dreamliners haven’t operated a commercial flight since at least March 18 and are currently parked at London Heathrow (LHR).

British Airways Airbus A350

Of the five A350s in its fleet, none of them are currently grounded.

Narrow-body aircraft storage

Along with the wide-body fleet of aircraft that operate BA’s long-haul flights, the airline also has an extensive fleet of single-aisle aircraft it typically uses to operate its flights to Europe and northern Africa. Because demand has suffered so much, especially for European travel when many countries have locked down their borders, BA has been forced to park some of its smaller aircraft.

Of its fleet of A319 and A320 aircraft, most have been parked at Madrid (MAD), London Heathrow or London Gatwick (LGW) airports. The airline has elected to send the grounded members of its A321 fleet to Glasgow Airport (GLA).

And as for the single A318 in BA’s fleet that typically operates the famed BA1 and BA2 flights between London City Airport and New York (JFK) via a refuelling stop in Shannon, Ireland (SNN), it has been parked at London Heathrow. The aircraft, G-EUNA, flew from LCY to LHR on 18 March, where it will presumably stay until the route resumes in September — if it ever does resume.

Related: British Airways suspends famed A318 all-business-class flight from London City to NYC

(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)
(Image from FlightRadar24)

Since BA has completely suspended its operation at London City Airport (LCY), it’s been forced to park its fleet of CityFlyer aircraft. Most of the E190 and E170 aircraft in its fleet have been parked either at Norwich Airport (NWI) or London Southend Airport (SEN).

While the coronavirus has brought uncertainty to everyone’s lives, it’s also brought about mass aircraft groundings for airlines. While BA hasn’t yet officially stored many of its wide-body aircraft, it’s likely in the process of doing so. It could make sense for British Airways to operate all of its remaining long-haul routes with 787 and A350 aircraft, as they’re the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft in its fleet. However, the capacity of those aircraft is much less than you would get on a larger aircraft like the 747 — especially in the case of the 787.

As BA continues to slash its capacity and routes around the world, it’s likely we’ll continue to see more and more aircraft take to being parked, ready — like the rest of us — to return to normal.

Featured photo courtesy of Google Earth.

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