Planes, planes and na’er a one flying

Out here in the West, in the dry climate (although baking in the sun), there are multiple graveyards for planes long retired from commercial use as well as mothballed planes ready to re-enter service for the military should the need (regrettably) return in case of war. In Mojave, Tucson, Roswell, Phoenix, Marana, Kingman, Victorville, and a host of 23 other places, these “boneyards” as they are called, are both eerie and visually enticing. The problem is, these vast depots are about to explode with more aircraft, some of them current, flyable, in perfect working order.

Let’s take one airline for example. Qantas is the Australian flag carrier. For their long-haul flights, they fly Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s. This August, Qantas has mothballed (while they try and sell) all 12 of their A380s. To make matters worse, they have sold or mothballed all their 747 fleet. All the aircraft they have taken off line were flying currently and are perfectly serviceable. The A380s, in fact, are almost brand new in aircraft terms. In all, Qantas has dumped 100 aircraft out of 126 aircraft. What remains? Smaller Boeing 737s, 787s and Airbus A330s. To say they have reduced their fleet is an understatement.

So, what are the other airlines doing?

The answer may be in the sudden growth of the “aircraft recycling” industries. Wall Street is investing heavily in these wreckers. For example, Baird Capital has plunged cash into eCube, which is based in Wales (UK) and Castellon, Spain. They are not handling Qantas… they have plenty of other customers. 

Meanwhile, many airlines appear content to pay parking fees as they wait to see how the crisis unfolds and how quickly — and reliably — passenger demand will return. My feeling? Don’t hold your breath for a quick recovery since many airlines are making impairment charges on annual reports or planning to. Qantas’ contribution is a $787,000,000 charge.

Wait a moment… on the other hand you should plan to hold your breath! You’ll need to when you fly in 2021, as there will be fewer aircraft and with every possible seat crammed into the fuselage with reduced legroom… you’ll have to suck in your stomach to squeeze into your so-called seat.


 Writer Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now calls New Mexico home.

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