Western-built jet arliners are retiring younger than ever these days. It's not uncommon to see Airbus and Boeing airframes under 15 years old now being sold for part-out as the value of their engines, avionics and other sought-after parts becomes a more attractive proposition than revenue from leases. In the U.K., Air Salvage International (ASI) based at Kemble, operate the main facility for airliner dismantling.
ASI has operated at Kemble (also known as Cotswold Airport) since 1997, growing its business significantly in the past few years, with the latest economic downturn forcing many airliners into early retirement. Although they can process any types, the most popular models that get stored and then broken up are Airbus A300 & A320s, Boeing 737 & 747s, with occasional other types such as Airbus A340s and Boeing 727s. ASI also stores airliners for short periods.
In 2012 almost 50 aircraft arrived at Kemble for processing by ASI and a similar number is expected this year. A selection of the current "inmates" can be seen below.
An 11-year-old A320 is already stripped of useful parts. Bricks are stored in the forward hold to prevent the aircraft tipping up, since the engines are long gone.
A 13-year-old A319 still has its valuable CFM56 engines attached....but not for long.
This 12-year-old A320 has recently arrived for temporary storage, and is not destined for the scrapyard just yet.
This 17-year-old A340 has begun the process of parts removal.
The 737-400 is 19 years old and one of the veterans at Kemble....
...eclipsed only by this 30-year old A300F. Its days are surely numbered !
All photo by Nigel Howarth