Due to restrictions related to Covid-19, fewer aircraft than usual are flying in this last period.
Compared to the same period in 2019, there were almost 200 thousand fewer flights.
Every plane that does not fly causes a number of problems – tourists who do not travel, people who do not work and consequently money that is lost – but there is also another: in the world, there are thousands of planes on the ground!
This leads to logistical and economic problems for the companies that have to park them, making sure at the same time to keep them ready to fly as soon as possible.
A plane that flies, full of people, brings profits; one parked is only a cost, which in the main European airports is equal – taking into account only the occupied space – to a few hundred euros per hour.
It is estimated that there are now a few thousand aircraft on the ground in the world. Some are stationary at airports: they are the most comfortable and best equipped places for this purpose, but there is no room for all planes and costs, especially if you consider a stop of several weeks, can become very high.
Those who can afford it and find space, therefore, are leaving their planes in the most important airports. Others are content with isolated and less busy stops, which cost less but will be more uncomfortable when those planes have to fly again. There are also several cases of airports that have temporarily transformed runways and landing strips into aircraft parking lots.
Airports, however, have no space for everyone. For this reason they are also using “deposits” of another type. In particular, in countries like the United States or Australia, with so many large, sparsely populated areas, there are isolated, spacious air bases, or even just large, unused aircraft depots, waiting for someone to put them back together, or maybe for people to buy some parts or components of the planes kept there. Some of these deposits are known as “aircraft cemeteries”.
Once you have chosen the parking, it is not enough to leave the keys and return to take back the plane after a few weeks. Aircraft that do not fly are subject to a set of controls necessary to preserve their efficiency.
There are common basic procedures for all aircraft, and other specific ones that change from one model to another; in general first you have to cover the windows and all the seats, to prevent the light from discolouring them.
But there are also more complicated procedures: from the cover of the wheels to the one that plans to empty the plane of its fuel and any other liquid, or what concerns the cover of everything you need to preserve the various sensors and instruments, internal and external, of the plane.
Each aircraft on the ground is usually checked at least once a week by qualified experts
The newspapers dealing with the problem of grounded aircraft also explain that many airlines could choose, given the situation, to permanently leave some of their older aircraft on the ground, to avoid paying for months the maintenance costs of planes that who knows when they will be able to fly again and that in any case could not last many more years.