Airports usually stretch across many square miles. After all, airplanes are very big, and airports have to be able to deal with a large number of them at any given moment. Now that commercial flights are becoming rare, airlines need to find places to store or park their aircraft.
During periods when the world rarely travels from one country to another, airlines need to get creative with their plane placement. Where do they park all of those flying machines, you ask? Keep reading to find out.
Hong Kong, Hong Kong International Airport
Abbreviated to HKG, the Hong Kong International Airport is now home to more than 90% of the airplanes owned by Cathay Pacific. The airline is Hong Kong’s national airline, so its choice of location is hardly surprising.
Cathay Pacific is one of the members in the Oneworld airline alliance. It is also one of the five co-founders of the alliance. The other co-founding airlines are American Airlines, Canadian Airlines (which merged with Air Canada and is now no longer part of the alliance), British Airways and Qantas.
United States, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Delta Airlines' fleet is one of the oldest ones owned by an American airline. With an average of almost 15 years of operation per plane, you might as well call the airliners 'grandplanes'. When one of Delta needs to decommission some airplanes, it has to go big.
With the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as its hub, Delta is taking up a lot of its space to park many of the planes in its possession. In order to host the idle Delta planes, the ATL Airport has closed more than two miles of its South Runway.
Germany, Frankfurt Airport
This airport is the biggest and most important one in Germany, and it serves as Lufthansa’s biggest home base. With a fleet of over 700 aircraft, Lufthansa is the biggest airline, not only in Germany, but in Europe as well.
Even when the airline’s activity is declining, it never fully stops. Some of the airplanes owned by Lufthansa are parked in the Frankfurt Airport to rest and enjoy some metaphorical beer and sauerkraut when they aren’t being used.
United Arab Emirates, Dubai
The Dubai International Airport is the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. In 2019, for example, it saw a little over 86 million people. That is about the population size of Turkey! Let that sink in for a minute.
This airport serves as a hub for Emirates Airline, which normally flies its high-end clientele in and out of the country. On low traffic days, when the airline needs to hold off on its services, you can find Emirates aircraft parked on its grounds.
The UK, Glasgow Airport
International Airlines Group is the parent company of British Airways and Iberia. When three quarters of the International Airlines Group’s airplanes aren’t being used, they need to be parked somewhere. Seeing as the average plane on their fleet can seat 150-400 passengers, a standard suburban garage is obviously not the answer.
While some of the aircraft found temporary homes in various airports throughout the United Kingdom, most of them are located at Glasgow Airport. After Edinburgh Airport, this is the busiest airport in Scotland.
The Netherlands, Schiphol Airport
When airlines around the world often merge and rebrand themselves, there is something they can all learn from Royal Dutch Airlines. Founded in 1919, it is the oldest working airline in the world to keep its original name!
Also known as KLM, this airline uses the Schiphol Airport as its hub. That is also where they store their grounded airplanes when they aren’t being used. When it comes to aircraft movement, the airport is the busiest one in Europe. It also serves as a hub for other airlines, including Martinair, TUI fly Netherlands, KLM Cityhopper, and Transavia.
United States, Tulsa International Airport
Other than being home to certain big cat lovers (Tiger King, anyone?), Oklahoma is also where you can find the Tulsa International Airport. Without harming regular activity, the civil-military airport can close one of its rarely used runways and make room for 50 airplanes to park on it.
American Airlines is currently using some of that parking space, parking a little more than 20 of the planes of its 900+ aircraft fleet.
The UK, Heathrow
Serving as a hub for British Airways, Heathrow Airport in London sees many passengers a day. In fact, in 2019, there were over 80 million people who came and went through the airport gates. However, on days when passenger traffic isn’t high and aircraft need to be grounded, some of them get to park on its asphalt.
Given the limited space at Heathrow, when there are too many aircraft than need to be grounded, those that don’t have a proper place there, get parked at Glasgow Airport in Scotland.
South Korea, Incheon International Airport
Normally a pretty regular sight in the Northeaster skies of Asia, Korean Air sometimes needs to give its fleet of 88 Boeing airplanes some rest. An average Boeing 747 is a little longer than 232 ft. That is about the size of three fully grown blue whales!
While Korean Air's planes are painted a beautiful shade of blue, they are by no means blue whales and can't be parked in water if they are to be used again. When the vessels need to be parked, they usually get to do that at Incheon International Airport (or ICN for short) in Seoul. This airport is the biggest one in North Korea and the airline’s main hub.
United States, Victorville Airport, California
Also known as SCLA (Southern California Logistics Airport), Victorville Airport offers all kinds of aviation services. One of those services is aircraft storage. This explains why the place became famous as an aircraft graveyard, featuring grounded planes from major airlines.
Plane storage facilities are in charge of maintaining all aircraft under their care. The actions they take depend on how long the plane is expected to stay there. Long-term parking, for example, means that the plane needs to be drained of fuel and other system fluids and go through mechanic inspections every once in a while. This way, it can be back in action when there's a demand for it.
Austria, Vienna Airport
Austrian Airlines is a Lufthansa subsidiary, but it doesn’t use the same hub as its parent company. Since its headquarters can be found at the Vienna Airport, this is also where it parks its grounded aircraft.
With overall 23,294 ft of asphalt runways (about the length of 142 standard Olympic pools, in case you were wondering), this airport seems like a proper home to the airline’s many airplanes.
Sri Lanka, Bandaranaike International Airport
When operating normally, SriLankan Airlines has more than 560 flights to 113 destinations every week. It wouldn't come as a surprise to hear that this is the largest airline in Sri Lanka. Founded in 1979 with the name Air Lanka, the airline was rebranded and partially merged with Emirates only to be back in Sri Lankan ownership in 2008.
When most of the airplanes in its fleet must be grounded, the airline makes sure they rest at their hub of Bandaranaike International Airport. When the aircraft are back in action, this airline can serve its many passengers, carrying them to no less than 113 destinations worldwide.
Switzerland, Military Airport
When Swiss International Air Lines need to cancel their flights and ground some airplanes, it is usually done on the grounds of the Zurich Airport. The airport is the airline's hub, and has won the World Travel Award in the "Europe's leading airport" category for 17 consecutive years!
However, when the demand for plane parking space runs high, not even the hub airport can handle a fleet of 91 planes all on its own. That is when the airline turns to the military for help. In times like these, this Lufthansa subsidiary rents parking spaces a military airport near Zurich.
United States, Phoenix Goodyear Airport
Once an army facility, the Phoenix Goodyear Airport now serves the people of Arizona. Other than its regular capacities as an airport, it also serves as a temporary home for some grounded airplanes.
The planes in question are 737 Max jets owned by United Airlines. Each of those jets has a wingspan of about 117 ft. That is about the size of six Asian elephants standing tail to trunk! There are about a dozen of them parked there waiting to get back in the air.
Singapore, Changi Airport
There are many impressive things about the Singapore Changi Airport. One of them is the indoor waterfall, which is the tallest in the world. In fact, it's so tall it is known as the 'Rain Vortex'. Another impressive thing about the airport is the fact that it was rated by Skytrax as the World's Best Airport for seven consecutive years.
When business is low at Changi Airport and there are no passengers to be impressed by its many features, some of its vessels need to be parked. Seeing as the place serves as a hub for Singapore Airlines as well as low-cost carrier Scoot, those airlines can rest their airplanes on the Changi asphalt.
China, Pudong International Airport
The Pudong International Airport in Shanghai is a huge hub for Air China as well as other Chinese airlines. Its terminals and runways are used to seeing millions of passengers and hundreds of thousands of flights a year. In 2018, for example, there were about 74 million passengers using its services. That is equivalent to double the population of Canada!
If, for some reason, the airport’s action becomes limited, the concrete surface of the airport’s ground becomes home to many parked local aircraft. The place is also a hub for many cargo airline companies, so when you order something from China, there is a good chance that at some point, your package has visited Pudong.
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2
Located in the Sepang district, only a short distance away from Kuala Lumpur’s city center, this airport is one of the biggest airports in southeast Asia, and the main airport of Malaysia. It stretches over a ground of 39 square miles. That is about the size of the city of Buffalo, New York.
It serves as a hub for Malaysia Airlines, as well as other Asian airlines. One of those airlines is AirAsia, and you can currently see some of its aircraft resting on the airport’s tarmac.
Israel, Ramon Airport
Located by the southernmost city in Israel, the Ramon airport first opened its gates in January of 2019. It was named after Ilan and Assaf Ramon. Ilan was the first Israeli astronaut in space. He died in the Columbia space shuttle disaster. His son, Assaf, died in a plane crash a few years later.
The Ramon airport has parking space for 100 airplanes. Despite its young age, the airport has reached out to different European airlines offering its parking spaces and desert climate to all those interested.
Argentina, Jorge Newbery Airport
The first things that come to mind when you think of Argentina are beautiful people, beautiful beaches, and lots of telenovelas. This country is also where you can find the Jorge Newbery Airport. Once operating internal flight within Argentine, the 341 acres of this airport now serve Argentinians flying to and from Uruguay.
Trips to Uruguay must be in high demand among Argentinians. When the millions of passengers served by the airport are choosing to not use its services, the place closes its gates and terminals. When that happens, aircraft of various airlines such as Aerolíneas Argentinas park on its tarmac.
Belgium, Brussels Airport
The Brussles Airport has quite the interesting history. It was founded by the Germans in the 1940s on top of agricultural lands and rebuilt by the Belgian government in 1958. It now serves as Brussels Airlines' (Brussels’ national airline, obviously) hub.
The Brussels Airport is located in the province of Zaventem, in the Flemish part of Belgium. When cancellation rates are high and some of the airline’s planes are suspended, what better place is there to park them than their home airport?
United Sates, Roswell International Air Center
When Roswell isn't busy with conspiracy theorists researching for UFO sightings, it has other businesses to operate. Like the Roswell International Air Center, for example. One of the services this New Mexico airport offers is aircraft storage. To be exact, the center has storage space for as many as 800 planes.
One airline that uses the airport’s storage services is American Airlines. When one of the airline’s planes needs to be retired, this is where it finds a new home.
United States, Pinal Airpark
Located in the district of Marana, Arizona, the Pinal Airpark is a public-use airport. The place also has an aircraft storage facility, which is the biggest of its kind in the world! Actually, more of the airpark's activity concerns aircraft storage rather than regular flights.
One airline to use that storage facility is Delta Air Lines – one of the most beloved airlines in the States. When Delta needs to decommission a plane, there is a great chance of it ending up at Pinal Park.
Germany, Brandenburg Airport
Brandenburg airport has been a work in progress for many years. Construction of the place first started in 2006 after a 15 year long planning process. I was meant to open in 2011 but that date kept getting delayed for different reasons. Today, this airport still hasn’t been opened, but Lufthansa has put it to good use.
Seeing as more than 100 of the airline's planes aren’t flying, they need to be stored somewhere. While a single airport can’t possibly contain all of Lufthansa’s fleet of over 700 planes, some of their aircraft were transferred to the still closed Brandenburg Airport in Berlin.
United States, Stuttgart Municipal Airport
Not to be confused with the city of Stuttgart in Germany, the Stuttgart we are talking about here is a city in Arkansas. the Stuttgart Municipal Airport is pretty small comparing to the busy airports of large cities.
For 20 years on and off, a 3 mile long stretch of the airport was used for races and Motorsports. Currently, this small airport also offers airplane storage and maintenance services facilitated by CAVU Aerospace.
United States, Pittsburgh International Airport
When American Airlines is looking for storage space for its many aircraft, one of the places it looks to is the international airport in Pittsburgh. The place was first opened in 1952 and went through a massive renovation process in 1992. The airport's new X-shaped design means that there is shorter distance between the gates.
Some of the company’s unused planes are being moved to various airports and aircraft boneyards for storage, and this Pittsburgh airport seems to fit the bill. It currently houses about 100 planes.
South Korea, Gimpo Airport
The Gimpo Airport in South Korea is used to serving millions of passengers each year. In 2019, it has seen 25 million of them. That is more than twice the size of Seoul's population! Normally buzzing with activity, the airport looks like a ghost town these days.
There may not be a lot of passengers there, but there are planes galore. Seeing as there aren’t many flights going on in and out of the country, the Asiana Airlines planes at the airport enjoy some downtime on the asphalt.
United States, Arkansas International Airport
Formerly known as the Blytheville Air Force Base, the Arkansas International Airport used to serve the United States Air Force until 1992, but now it doesn't see as many men in uniform. In the past 22 years, it is mostly known as an airplane boneyard.
With ramp space of 5 million square feet and six hangars, this airport can definitely accommodate some grounded airliners. Delta Air Line has sent some of its grounded planes to be stored there. Among those planes there are four A350s, each of which can seat between 300 and 350 people.
United States, Orlando International Airport
Florida’s hot climate is favorable to those interested in storing an aircraft, as the dry weather helps prevent corrosion, which can harm planes' bodies and machinery. This is why United Airlines chose to send several of their Boeings to the Orlando National Airport.
With head office in Chicago, Illinois, United Airlines literally had to go to great lengths (1156 miles, to be exact) in order to store their planes in Orlando.
Denmark, Kastrup Airport
Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen is home base for Scandinavian Airlines. Normally, the airline's activity includes flying blue-eyed blond viking decedents to as many as 123 destinations. In 2019, it had 25 million international flights and, but these days, much like other airlines around the world, it is seeing great decrease in activity.
When they aren't flying, some of the airline’s vessels are standing by in different airports. Most of their aircraft, however, are parked at the Kastrup Airport, waiting until they’re called to get back in the air.
England, Bournemouth Airport
While British Airways maintains two hubs in London airports (Gatwick and Heathrow), those places don’t have enough storage space for the airline’s full inventory of aircraft, which includes 280 vessels.
One of the airports the airline has resorted to is the Bournemouth Airport in southern England. This airport actually served as London's official airport for a short time until Heathrow opened its gates. Now there are about 50 planes on the Bournemouth asphalt.
Germany, Hamburg Airport
After Frankfurt Airport, the Hamburg Airport is the second biggest in Germany. It is also the inspiration behind the biggest miniature airport in the world (we know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true!). This airport is another temporary home for some of Lufthansa‘s many aircraft.
It is currently storing an A380 from the airline’s fleet. It is an iron monster that weigh 589 tons (about the weight of 220 fully grown rhinos). The plane has been sitting there for a while and could be turned into a ghost plane unless someone takes it to the sky.
Philippines, Lufthansa Technik Facility
When Philippines Airlines jets aren’t cutting through the skies, they spend some down time at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila or one of the other international airports in the Philippines.
These days, you can find them resting in the hangars of Lufthansa Technik Facility. This facility is only one of the many Lufthansa service enters where the company planes can be properly maintained, repaired and taken care of. There are numerous such centers in Europe, Asia and North and South America.
Australia, Avalon Airport
Qantas Airlines and its low-cost brand, Jetstar, are two of Australia’s favorite airlines. When air-travel is on the low in the Land Down Under, these airlines store some of their aircraft at Avalon Airport, not far from Melbourne.
You can currently see about 50 planes and 30 aviation engineers maintaining them on the grounds of Avalon. This Australian airport is also known as the home of the Australian International Airshow. It is a large airshow happening once every two years, and it is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Australia, Alice Springs Airport
Australia’s hot and dry climate makes it ideal for storing idle planes as the dry heat means that the planes take longer to rust. The Alice Springs Airport is making use of that desert climate, operating a plane storage facility known as Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage.
The place is mostly known for two unfortunate incidents in the '70s, which included hijacking and suicide. Thankfully, none of those happened since and the place operates peacefully. Qantas Airlines are and storing several of their old 747s there. The place also stores 737 Max jets owned by Fiji Airways and SilkAir.
Australia, Brisbane Airport
One of Qantas Airlines’ four hubs is the Brisbane Airport in Queensland, Australia. Normally, it serves millions of passengers each year (23 million of them in 2017 alone!), but it also has some plane parking spots.
When in need, Qantas Airlines as well as Virgin Australia, use the airport’s parking spots to park some of their planes. And they would be right to trust the airport with their precious aircraft as its service was rated as number one in Australia for ten consecutive years (from 2005 to 2014).
United States, Washington Dulles International Airport
The first flight to arrive at he Washington Dulles International Airport was from New Jersey in 1962. In its first years, the airport didn't see a lot of traffic and was seen by many as a 'white elephant'. Now, however, things are different; the airport saw no less than 285,042 aircraft operations in 2019 alone, and there is a fifth runway about to be added to the four already in operation.
Located in Dulles, Virginia, this airport serves as one of the hubs for United Airlines. One of United’s fleets is currently being grounded on the airport’s concrete surface.
United States, Honolulu Airport
Also known as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the Honolulu Airport is located on the island of O’ahu. In case you went on a vacation to Hawaii or are blessed enough to call this place a home, there is a good chance you've boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight and landed with a lei around your neck.
Hawaiian Airlines is the largest carrier in Hawaii, and uses this airport as its main hub. There are currently dozens of the airline’s airplanes parked on the asphalt of one of the airport’s runways.
Portugal, Lisbon Airport
Sometimes known by its full name, Humberto Delgado Airport, this airport in Portugal serves as a hub for TAP Air Portugal. Among the many awards and accolades the airline has won, the most interesting one must be "most handsome crew." The rank was given to it by Monocle Magazine in its December 2017/January 2018 issue.
At least one of the airline’s fleets, as well as another EasyJet fleet, are currently parked on the asphalt surface of the airport’s grounds.
Chile, Santiago Airport
The biggest and busiest airport in Chile, Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, is more commonly known as the Santiago Airport. It was meant to be called Aeropuerto Internacional de Pudahuel, but in 1980 it was renamed after Arturo Merino Benítez, who founded Chile's air force.
Passengers going through the airport have 21 eateries and more than 70 stores to enjoy while they wait for their flights. The asphalt grounds of this airport are currently holding large portions of the LATAM Airlines group.
Brazil, Sao Paulo Airport
One of the things that make the Sao Paulo airport special is the fact that the Tropic of Capricorn runs directly through one of its runways. This Brazilian international airport serves both the citizens and the military of Brazil.
It is one of the busiest airports in South America in terms of passenger traffic. With over 20,000 ft of asphalt runway, the place currently holds a decent amount of LATAM Airlines’ aircraft.
Brazil, Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport
Located in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, the Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport is the second biggest airport in Brazil. For those of you who'e given up on trying to pronounce the place's name correctly, it is commonly abbreviated to BSB.
The facility was named after Juscelino Kubitschek, who was the 21st president of Brazil. The airport is civil as well as military. Recent pictures of the airport will show that it has closed one of its runways in order to store some of LATAM Airlines’ airplanes on its asphalt.
Peru, Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport
Seeing as it is the biggest airline in America, LATAM Airlines needs to use several airports or storage facilities to hold the entirety of its fleets. One of those places is the Cuzco Airport in Peru. Among other capacities, the place is presently being used as a temporary home for some of LATAM’s aircraft.
The airport's runways have a rather unusual design; since the airport is located at high altitudes where the air is thin, planes taking off from it need to use longer runways in order to rise to the air.
United States, Sky Harbor International Airport
Phoenix, Arizona is known for its desert-like weather. While some might not enjoy the high temperatures, they are exactly what makes the place great for airplane storage. Low moisture and dry air are extremely helpful in keeping a plane from degrading.
There are eleven planes currently parked at the airport. Some of them are there for short-term periods, others for longer. The ones parked for a short term period enjoy frequent maintenance actions performed on them, in order to keep them in tip-top shape so they are ready to be back in the air at a moment's notice.
United States, Shuttlesworth International Airport
With a fleet of more than 1,200 airplanes, Delta has to reach out to as many airports as it can in order to store its unused planes. Some of Delta’s aircraft are being stored at the small Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama.
The airport is somewhat of a local celebrity in itself as it served as filming location for a music video. The song to which the video was filmed is "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath.
France, Charles de Gaulle Airport
The most famous airport in Paris, and the second-busiest in Europe, Charles de Gaulle Airport has seen passengers from all over the world. In 2019 alone, it has see 79 million of them. That is more than the country's current population of 65 million!
Now however, passenger traffic is at a decrease, and when that happens, the many planes serving the locals and tourists must be parked along some of its taxiways.
United States, Mobile Regional Airport
This Alabama airport is of the public/military type. Some of you may remember the place as the background to 2005 President George W. Bush, as he praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency on dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Ten days after the speech was delivered, Michael D Brown, then head of FEMA, admitted FEMA's shortcomings in dealing with the crises and resigned.
With the low traffic of less than 300,000 passengers a year, the place also serves as a storage facility. It is now a temporary home to a row of jets and American Airlines owned Airbus A321s situated on one of its asphalt runways.
United States, Piedmont Triad International Airport
Looking for storage space for a fleet of nearly 1000 aircraft is not an easy thing to do. Airports around the world aren’t equipped to deal with so many planes at once. The people at American Airlines know that well, and this is why their airplanes are parked in different locations.
One such location is the Piedmont Triad International Airport in North Carolina. This airport is pretty busy. In fact, it is the third busiest airport in its area (North Carolina) and it sees an average of 280 landings and takeoffs per day.
United States, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
They say that everything is bigger in Texas. One of those things is the world's largest commercially available pizza! (8 ft by 2 ft if you must know.) Another thing is the biggest American Airlines hub.
Among the many hubs the airline has around the United Stated, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the largest one. The airport is located by the airline’s headquarters and it currently stores several of American Airlines’ many aircraft.
Germany, Munich Airport
The Munich Airport is very busy. After Frankfurt Airport, it is the second busiest in Germany. It is also one of Lufthansa’s hubs. Now it also serves as a parking lot for more than 100 airplanes. The aircraft are parked on the airport’s ground, waiting to get back to the sky.
This airport is known as environmentally friendly. The construction and planning of the facility was environmentally aware, with the airport emitting less CO2 and the natural surroundings as intact as possible.