COVID-19 Accelerates Aircraft Retirements and Long-Term Storage


Grounding aircraft when bookings collapsed for fear of coronavirus was a painful but easy decision for airlines. Now come the hard decisions as government restrictions on flying begin to ease and airlines see a glimmer of hope for consumer demand.

As the recovery begins, airlines must decide which and how many aircraft to put back into service immediately, how to get them back most economically, where and how to store the aircraft not needed soon, which aircraft to retire and how to wring the most value out of their retirement.


How many aircraft will need to be stored long term, converted or parted out? A working estimate is that not more than 5,000 of the worldwide currently parked aircraft will return to some semblance of normal utilization by the end of 2020. That could leave as many as 8,000 aircraft whose fate is unknown with options like, long-term storage, tear-down, or asset sales.