More than 30% of passenger aircraft remain grounded around the world

Mar 18, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still being felt across the world. And that’s even clearer when looking at the travel and aviation industries, which have been especially hard hit by the pandemic.

According to new research from aviation analytics company Cirium, 32% of global passenger aircraft around the world still remain marked as “in storage.” In total, that means 8,442 aircraft around the world are still parked, while 17,928 are in service.

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news and insights!

While 32% is still a huge number, it’s a step forward for the aviation industry. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, 63% of global passenger aircraft were grounded or marked as “in storage” by airlines as they cut service to meet the drastically reduced passenger demand.

A parked aircraft is an aircraft that’s losing money for the airline. Not only is the airline not making any money by the inability to sell tickets to passengers, but it’s also got other fees on the books, such as paying for the storage while it remains out of service.

Related: Where is British Airways parking its planes during the coronavirus pandemic?

However, the amount of aircraft still in storage is bringing another challenge to the airlines: convincing would-be passengers that they’re safe to fly. According to a Cirium survey of 2,105 British adults, 75% of respondents are concerned about flying in an aircraft that has been grounded for more than one month because of the pandemic.

Airlines have strict, detailed processes in place for bringing aircraft out of storage and back into service.

Related: Here’s what it takes to get planes back in service after they’ve been in storage

Interestingly, while the British public has shown some reservations about the safety of flying, 54% of respondents said that they do want to fly within the next 12 months. The desire to do so is higher for younger travellers — those aged 18 to 24 — of which 76% of respondents said they plan to travel in the next 12 months. Most of the respondents — 73% — say that vaccination rollouts is the single largest measure capable of restoring confidence in travel.

While the U.K. is still in its third national lockdown, there is the light at the end of the tunnel. In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown, which could see the return to international travel by 17 May at the earliest. However, the prospect of a return to long-haul travel seems longer off than does European travel — especially for those travelling for leisure reasons.

British Airways is reportedly considering using some of its long-haul aircraft on short-haul European routes this summer. As such, it’s looking to capitalise on the high demand to summer holiday destinations like Greece.

Related: British Airways considering using long-haul aircraft to European destinations this summer

Not only will it allow BA to sell more seats, making it more money, but it will get some of its stored long-haul aircraft off the ground. And for passengers, they can expect a more premium flying experience — especially in the new Club Suite cabin on board BA’s A350s and select 777s — but more opportunities to redeem Avios for reward seats.

“Cirium’s survey results identify the British public’s appetite for travel, however, it’s clear that certain measures to restore travel confidence will be more successful than others, with vaccinations featuring at the top and ‘health passports’ another favourable option,” Cirium CEO Jeremy Bowen said.

“It’s evident that people will travel if safety remains the top priority of airlines and airports,” Bowen said. “Bringing back travel is not just about easing travel restrictions, but also about rebuilding reassurance in flying safely in a world where COVID-19 still exists.”

Featured photo by Jaime Reina/Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.