Aircraft Storage Demand Still Fluid In Europe

Credit: Tarmac Aerosave

LYON, France—After having been thought for a few days to be on a strong upward curve, demand for aircraft storage during the COVID-19 crisis is still unstable, according to specialist Tarmac Aerosave.

“Stabilization is underway, but the situation is fluid,” company CEO Patrick Lecer said. Tarmac Aerosave has been freeing up storage space at its sites in Tarbes and Toulouse Francazal, France, as well as in Teruel, Spain. But customer interest is slower than expected to materialize, Lecer noted.

“We have seen a lot of requests, a lot of back and forth, a lot of uncertainties among customers,” he said. And at times, carriers are realizing their needs are changing, Lecer explained. A number of airlines have managed to store aircraft close to their headquarters, as underutilized airports have offered to do so.

“Overall, demand is for short-term storage,” Lecer said. Tarmac has currently 170 aircraft in storage, up from 140-150 before the crisis.

The company has increased the space available to 230-250 aircraft depending on their size—a 20% expansion. “We have rearranged some areas to be ready if demand actually grows,” Lecer said.

Tarmac’s maintenance and retrofit activities have been halted. The idea is to focus on storage demand, as services and cabin upgrades are suddenly becoming less urgent. In addition, the suspension helps implement hygiene and safety measures across the sites.

Social distancing has been put into practice, and individual protection equipment has been distributed, depending on every employee’s role, Lecer said. Working hours have been modified so that employees do not meet in the lockers room.

Only a minority of Tarmac’s payroll is on site. The majority of its personnel are working from home or are working part time. Others are using sick days or are on vacation, Lecer said, adding “We are ensuring business continuity with about 40% of our workforce.”

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.