Where is British Airways parking its planes during the coronavirus outbreak?
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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?
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Last month, International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, announced that it would be slashing 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, as well as narrow-body aircraft like the A320 and A321. Plus, it also has those in the BA CityFlyer fleet, which operates out of London City Airport (LCY).
So while a number of BA’s flights aren’t currently operating, where is it putting all of those wide-body 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.
British Airways Airbus A380
The airline has 12 A380s in its fleet. The majority of which are split between the airline’s home base at London Heathrow and Châteauroux, France. More specifically, seven of the airline’s A380s are parked at Châteauroux Airport (CHR), and five of them are parked at London Heathrow (LHR).
The 12th and final A380 in the BA fleet — registered as G-XLEG — is parked in Manila, Philippines (MNL). It’s been at MNL since 7 March.
British Airways Boeing 747
The other superjumbo 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 have been sitting at Heathrow for a number of days without operating any commercial flights.
In total, British Airways has 31 747s in its fleet. Of them, 15 are at London Heathrow. While not all of them are officially marked as stored, the last time any of those aircrraft operated a passenger flight was 6 April.
Six BA 747s are currently stored at Cardiff (CWL), while five are stored at Bournemouth (BOU). Additionally, five are stored at Teruel Airport (TEV) in Spain.
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, 43 of the aircraft have been marked as stored or have not operated a commercial flight since 6 April.
The most 777s are currently parked at London Heathrow (LHR) with a total of 22. An additional 14 777s have been stored at London Gatwick Airport (LGW). Finally, a total of seven 777s have been stored at Cardiff (CWL).
Our research found that 14 777s are still in service and have operated a flight since 6 April.
British Airways Boeing 787
Between the 787-8 and 787-9 variants, British Airways has 30 Dreamliners in its fleet. In total, BA has 13 Dreamliners stored at London Heathrow (LHR), including those that haven’t operated a passenger flight since 6 April.
Additionally, there are two Dreamliners currently parked at Cardiff (CWL).
According to our findings, 15 of the 787s are still in service for BA.
British Airways Airbus A350
British Airways has five A350s in its fleet. While only one of them is parked as stored, none of them have operated a passenger flight since at least 6 April. All of them are currently parked at London Heathrow (LHR).
Narrow-body aircraft storage
Along with the wide-body fleet of aircraft that operate BA’s long-haul flights, it also has an extensive fleet of single-aisle aircraft it typically uses to operate its regional 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 regional aircraft.
Of its fleet of A319 and A320 aircraft, most have been parked at Madrid (MAD), Bournemouth (BOH), Glasgow (GLA) or London Gatwick (LGW) airports.
And as for the single A318 in BA’s fleet that typically operates the airlines 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 Madrid (MAD). The aircraft, G-EUNA, flew from LCY to LHR on 18 March and then from LHR to MAD on 20 March, where it will presumably stay until the route resumes in September — if it ever does resume.
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’s operations have been severely reduced, it’s likely keeping aircraft on hand for repatriation efforts and cargo flights.
Featured photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images.