Roswell Expects To Store 800 Aircraft in 90 Days

Roswell Air Center
Credit: Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp

U.S. domestic flights dropped from about 27,000 on Jan. 23 to less than 17,000 on March 23, according the flight trackers at RadarBox. That 37% reduction is not as drastic as the cuts in some parts of the world, but sharp enough to ground a lot of aircraft. And many of those aircraft are headed for the warm, dry desert.

Mark Bleth, air center manager and deputy director of Roswell Air Center, says he is in conversations with both airlines and the MROs that represent airlines about his aircraft parking services. “We anticipate filling to capacity of 800 in the next 90 days,” Bleth says. That count would be about 11% of the U.S. commercial fleet.

Bleth says it’s hard to say what portion of aircraft now being taken out of service will be temporarily stored and which will be retired or repurposed. “We would most likely see most of the 767s retired, sold and maybe repurposed for freight. I'm sure Amazon is keeping an eye on the disposition of retired 767s. The 777s, A319s, A320s, 737s, the modern and fuel-efficient fleet, will all most likely go back to work in the future,” he predicts.

Roswell offers temporary parking and charges daily rates to MROs that maintain aircraft. The facility is very scaleable, and Roswell is now expanding its parking capability by adding 300 more acres of asphalt area for long-term storage. “This will clear the way for us to separate our active storage from our long-term cold storage,” Bleth says. “Right now we have about 20 planes in, with hundreds behind them.”

The Air Center has regular air service to Dallas Fort Worth and Phoenix and provides full services, from heavy checks to full paint with short- and long term-storage solutions, from active storage to a "crunch pad." It develops its workforce in-house by partnering with Eastern New Mexico University, located at the Center. The university’s airframe and powerplant program has a composite section and is adding component repair.