More planes return to flight as European summer arrives

The number of inactive planes in Europe has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, a sign of what Eurocontrol calls a smooth resumption of flights as the summer season begins. According to the agency’s latest data snapshot released on Tuesday, statistics show that operators returned to service more than 800 planes from early May to June 1, a total of 3,384 parked airliners, more than double the number of jets. number of inactive aircraft. machines on the same date in 2019 but less than half of the peak recorded in spring 2020.

In a typical week in 2019, around 2,000 planes would remain parked at European airports. Natural declines due to seasonality caused the number of inactive planes to drop to around 1,500 in July 2019. Eurocontrol noted that inactive planes could include business aviation and private planes that do not necessarily fly weekly. , aircraft in maintenance or repair, or even recently retired aircraft.

At the end of 2019, traffic growth was already starting to weaken, leading to a slight increase in the number of inactive aircraft compared to the previous winter. In April 2020, when Europe went into lockdown, the industry experienced the most dramatic change: some 5,000 planes that flew regularly each week joined those parked at airports. At its peak, nearly 7,200 inactive planes occupied aprons, taxiways and even runways as needed for days, weeks and months depending on the case and the airline’s strategy. Some airlines have even stepped up plans to withdraw part of their fleets, notably the Boeing 747s and the Airbus A380s. Eurocontrol notes that planes taken to the storage desert outside of Europe come out of the statistics.

The partial resumption of traffic in the summer of 2020 allowed some of those inactive planes to fly again and the total number of inactive planes fell to just over 3,500. But then a second wave of Covid over winter has brought a lot to the ground, and while the Christmas season has improved the situation, new travel restrictions coming with a third wave of Covid earlier this year have increased the number of inactive cells to nearly 5,000.

“As the summer of 2021 begins, the smooth resumption of flights sees more planes returned to service: more than 800 since the beginning of May, leaving our airports with the fewest inactive planes since the start of the pandemic,” he added. said Eurocontrol, which called the development “a good sign for the coming summer”.

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