This could become a headache for airlines: where to park planes nailed to the ground following the containment measures in the world linked to the Covid-19 epidemic? After Air France, which reduced its activity by 70 to 90% until the end of May, it is the turn of EasyJet, the second largest air carrier in France, and Ryanair to announce that they will interrupt the majority of their flights from this Tuesday March 24, midnight. Corsair, the last flight between Mauritius and Paris are scheduled for next March 30, as well as Air Caraïbes and its low cost long-haul subsidiary Frenchbee are in the same situation.
97 Air France aircraft already nailed to CDG
For now, “there is no alert in terms of places to accommodate planes,” says a spokesperson for the ADP group, the manager of Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly airports. . Companies with their base in France can use the private areas around the hangars, as is the case for the Air France group at CDG and Orly where the company already has 97 and 25 aircraft stopped respectively. Transavia, the low-cost subsidiary of the tricolor group, also has 27 aircraft stopped at Orly alongside the 10 large aircraft of Air Caraïbes and its Frenchbee subsidiary. “Taxiways can also be mobilized,” continues ADP. On the other hand, however, not the landing and take-off runways which could be damaged due to the weight of the immobilized aircraft.
Other airports are used by airlines, such as Bourget (Seine-Saint-Denis), Vatry (Marne) or Châteauroux (Indre), but also in Europe. “Transporters are trying not to concentrate their entire fleet in one place,” ADP explains, “in particular for safety reasons”, in the event of a fire for example. Air France, whose fleet amounts to 224 aircraft, has parked six Boeing 777s at Vatry airport while the company does not usually serve this platform. “There are discussions in progress with several companies, for the moment we mainly host Air France aircraft, explains an airport spokesperson, but our capacities are limited.” For its part, the regional airline Hop Air France which operates 69 aircraft, parks its aircraft on their maintenance base in Morlaix and Toulouse in particular.
In addition, the solution of sending the planes to early maintenance, as Air France did at the start of the crisis, is no longer really topical because of the reduction in costs on all floors within the company. “We are obviously continuing the visual inspections and the regular start-up of the aircraft according to the usual control instructions in the event of aircraft shutdown,” said Air France. The layoff of almost 80% of employees has also severely reduced maintenance activity.
Planes parked in the deserts in the United States
Also stopped, American companies choose to park their devices in the desert when they estimate that they will not be back in service for at least three months. According to Financial times, Delta Airlines, the partner of Air France-KLM, which plans to ground nearly 600 planes has chosen the 200 hectares of Pinal Airpark in Arizona, while American Airlines parks its aircraft on the runways of the former center military Roswell International in New Mexico, which has become one of the most important aircraft storage locations in the world. The dry desert air also limits the risk of corrosion of the devices. The cost of storage, according to the FT, is also lower (estimated at $ 30,000 per plane) than that at airports.
According to estimates by the specialized firm CAPA-Center for aviation, 80% of the world fleet could be grounded. In 2019, Airbus estimates there were 22,680 commercial aircraft in service worldwide.