With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the airline industry, tens of thousands of aircraft are now grounded all around the world (16,000 or 62% of the world’s planes according to research conducted by Cirium). As you can probably imagine, storing a plane isn’t as straightforward as parking it at an airport and forgetting about it. Planes need the right space with the right conditions, as well as regular maintenance to ensure they remain airworthy. As it happens, one of the best plane storage locations is right here in Australia.
Why is Alice Springs So Good For Storing Planes?
Humidity is an airplane’s worst enemy. It can quickly corrode aircraft components and cause significant damage to interiors. That’s why deserts, like Australia’s red centre and the Mojave Desert, are ideal for storing planes. There is little to no humidity, barely any rain and no storm activity. While the temperature can reach extremes, particularly in summer, the cooler autumn and winter months ahead will provide the perfect storage conditions for the next 5-6 months.
Another bonus of desserts are their solid surfaces which can easily accommodate the weight of aircraft. No paving is required and the landscape doesn’t suffer any negative effects either. The perfect conditions do come at a cost – up to $1000 a day and that’s not including essential maintenance costs.
A380’s Arrive in Alice Springs
With the number of passenger jets in the air the lowest in 26 years and 25 million jobs at risk (source), airlines are scrambling to find suitable storage space. Alice Springs is the perfect position to take full advantage. Just last week four Airbus A380s made a historic landing at the new Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility in Alice Springs, joining six Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes. Alice Springs Airport general manager Dave Batic believes there will more planes arriving as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to take their toll on the aviation industry.
Keeping the planes in near-ready flight condition is a lengthy process which involves sealing the aircraft so they are completely airtight, covering the engines and turning them on periodically to make sure they are kept in good condition.