How is parking in Roswell NM

Death reports are booming here

American Airlines had bad news a week and a half ago for the boss of Roswell Airpark in the US state of New Mexico, Scott Stark. The world's largest airline in terms of passengers announced that it will no longer fly to the city from October until further notice.

But Stark can get over it. Because the former military airport has long since found a much more important business area: the parking and recycling of superfluous traffic machines. According to statistics from the Swiss data service provider CH-Aviation, the airport is one of the largest in the field and since the beginning of the corona crisis has now had a good 600 aircraft instead of 300 on the site.

Many other remote landing sites around the world are currently experiencing a similar boom: From Goodyear west of Phoenix in the US state of Arizona to Teruel in eastern Spain to Alice Springs, almost exactly in the center of Australia. This is shown by exclusive satellite images from LiveEO. All of these places for long-term parking and scrapping of aircraft, known in the industry as boneyards, are reporting record numbers. On some, like Pinal Airpark near Tucson, Arizona, the number of parked jets has more than doubled in the past twelve months.

“There have never been so many machines that have been shut down as this year,” says Rob Morris, head of the travel industry-specializing data house Cirium. It was already relatively full there last year. This was ensured by the growing oversupply of aircraft and the flight ban on the Boeing 737 Max after two crashes. That is why, according to an overview by the Swiss data service provider CH-Aviation, the airlines had already parked 5800 aircraft of the younger generation for a longer period of time or even for scrapping in January. But since then the number has more than doubled.

A look from above at airfields such as Teruel or Tarbes in southern France shows that there are also many new models, not least the superjumbos Airbus A380 or the economical A350. Elsewhere, there are a noticeable number of the current Boeing top model 787 Dreamliner.

The reason is the unprecedented slump in air traffic as a result of the corona pandemic. Because of the fear of infection and the many travel bans, only a twentieth of the passengers were in places around April compared to the previous year.

The chances that many of the decommissioned jets will return as quickly as after previous crises is extremely slim. According to CH-Aviation, there were around 50 percent more aircraft on the road from the end of July to mid-August than at the height of the crisis in April. But since then the number of active aviators has hardly increased any more. Instead, it threatens to decline again because many airlines are thinning out their flight plans again. Even the notoriously optimistic Ryanair, which wanted to have 70 percent of its flight fleet in the air again in the fall, is now only assuming a good 60 percent.

The large long-haul routes in particular, such as British Airways and the Australian Qantas, are no longer decommissioning more and more parts of their long-haul fleet, not just for the short term, but for the long term. “They probably won't come back before 2022,” said Qantas boss Alan Joyce. Even Singapore Airlines, which is close to the most important growth market in China, has only 60 of its 220 passenger jets in the sky before the crisis - and half of them act as makeshift carriers to alleviate the gap in air logistics caused by the thinned flight plans.

This even fosters a kind of cut-throat competition for centrally located airports, where the jets can quickly be brought back to normal operation when traffic recovers. Singapore sent their planes to the Alice Springs cemetery so quickly that local hero Qantas had no more space for his jets there until the end of the ongoing expansion, and his long-haul fleet was forced to park his long-haul fleet, especially in the USA.

The fact that more jets are now being shut down again is also due to the fear of further travel restrictions around an expected second wave of the corona pandemic. Until the beginning of August, the hope of a growing desire to travel grew due to an increasing relaxation of travel regulations. Now the opposite is threatening. It is not just that travel bans and warnings are tending to be tightened and that long-haul traffic that is hoped for in autumn is hardly foreseeable. The long optimistic tone of politics about flying has also cooled. In many countries, like the German government recently, politicians call air travel and, last but not least, vacations more or less superfluous. “Even the climate protection activists from Extinction Rebellion didn't dare to do that,” says a leading manager in the aviation industry.

That secures the boom for the boneyards. Almost all long-term parking spaces are currently expanding. In addition to Marana in the US state of Arizona, Alice Springs also recently announced an expansion of several million dollars.

The fact that these remote airports are getting most of the growth is thanks to their location. Whether Teruel, the traditional parking space of the Deutsche Post subsidiary DHL in Kingman, Arizona, or the supposed UFO hotspot Roswell, New Mexico: Their climate is ideal for extensive parking and waiting for the jets to be dismantled later. "Because the air is warm and dry, the planes hardly suffer from corrosion," says the Hamburg aviation expert Heinrich Großbongardt. And unlike in the sandy deserts of Africa or Arabia, the dry soil is so solid that it hardly needs to be paved for the empty, up to 300-ton machines. In addition, there is less sand in Arizona or Australia that could penetrate the sensitive parts of the machines and would have to be laboriously removed before being used as a spare part.

Nevertheless, European places are also growing, and even relatively humid ones like the Cotswolds in Central England. Because this is less about long-term shutdown, but more about dismantling relatively new machines quickly, as long as the parts are still worth something. In the past, the owners of jets could take their time with shredding, because aircraft parts usually hardly lost any of their value. It's different today. "Because a relatively large number of machines are currently being dismantled, but relatively few are flying, there are more and more spare parts and less and less demand," says a leading manager of an airline. "That depresses the prices."