- Title: Grounded jets sit out coronavirus pandemic in Pyrenees
- Date: 26th June 2020
- Summary: TARBES, FRANCE (JUNE 19, 2020) (REUTERS) PLANES THAT ARE NO LONGER IN USE ON TARMAC VARIOUS OF HALF-DISMANTED PLANE VARIOUS OF PLANE PARTS SIGN READING: TARMAC AEROSAVE VIEW FROM ABOVE THE TARMAC (SOUNDBITE) (English) TARMAC AEROSAVE CEO, PATRICK LECER, SAYING: "Since the COVID has started, all the maintenance and dismantling activities have been put to hold, if you want. We're 99 percent concentrated on storage, so we have a lot more requests for storage, but a lot less requests for maintenance." VARIOUS OF DISMANTLED PLANE (SOUNDBITE) (English) TARMAC AEROSAVE CEO, PATRICK LECER, SAYING: "It seems there is a trend in the industry that has started already before the crisis but I think it might be influenced even further by the crisis, which is to focus on more eco-efficient aircraft. The new aircrafts, they burn 25 percent less fuel, so it's a lot less carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, so there will be a trend, we all believe there will be a trend in dismantling and recycling the older aircrafts, which are more polluting, yes." VARIOUS OF PLANE PARTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) TARMAC AEROSAVE CEO, PATRICK LECER, SAYING: "(We have to) find a way to recycle this composite carbon structure (used by new planes). Today, there is no efficient way to recycle it, so we are working with all these companies. This will be, in my opinion, this will be the key element in the future, to be able to recycle at the level that we recycle today, the aircraft to come." PLANES THAT ARE NO LONGER IN USE ON TARMAC
- Embargoed: 10th July 2020 12:50
- Keywords: TARMAC Aerosave airport coronavirus grounded planes pandemic parked jets
- Location: TARBES, FRANCE
- City: TARBES, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Floods
- Reuters ID: LVA001CK0BXVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:At the airport of Tarbes in France, row upon row of empty jets in liveries from Asia to Africa sit nose to tail on the tarmac, waiting out the coronavirus crisis in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Air travel has tumbled to a fraction of normal levels due to the pandemic, grounding about two thirds of the world's fleet and stretching Europe's largest aircraft storage company.
With little to no travel demand, TARMAC Aerosave has more than 200 aircraft on its sites. The previous record for planes stored by the company was 150.
"All the maintenance and dismantling activities have been put to hold. We're 99 percent concentrated on storage," said Patrick Lecer, chief executive of TARMAC Aerosave, headquartered at Tarbes.
The crisis has turned the picturesque airport into a refuge for the industry's biggest jets, symbols of globalization now looking out of their element amidst green farmland. The terminal serving pilgrims for nearby Lourdes remains almost empty.
In the high-risk airline business, where brands come and go with little warning, Lecer is used to having to be flexible, finding space for aircraft on behalf of mainly leasing clients.
But the speed of the airline industry meltdown put the firm on an emergency footing as airlines sought space worldwide.
Lecer shared an anecdote of a client calling on a Saturday night, saying the plane was in the air and arriving the next day.
Most new arrivals go in "active" parking, ready to fly at short notice. Hydraulics are drained, moving parts get a coat of grease and fuel tanks are left 10% full to prevent seals drying.
After three months, aircraft must leave or go into longer-term storage, which includes protecting cabins and engines with bags of silica gel, like the sachets used to pack electronics, to prevent humidity. An A380 aircraft, for example, needs 100kg of silica.
With so few planes flying, storage demand looks set to peak, Lecer said. But as airlines slowly restore flights, the industry faces new risks as government support eases and bills fall due.
TARMAC was set up to recycle jets by owners Airbus, Safran and SUEZ, but most revenue comes from parking jets between lease contracts, combined with maintenance.
TARMAC has boosted existing capacity at Tarbes by 25% through optimisation and is in talks with European airports to add more stand-by space, Lecer said.
It recently added a fourth storage site at Vatry in eastern France on an ex-NATO fighter dispersal base. Now civil airliners wait out the pandemic there, with Airbus predicting it will take 3-5 years for air traffic to return to normal.
(Production: Stephane Mahe, Yiming Woo)
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