Almost Two Thirds of World's Passenger Jets Now Grounded

About 17,000 planes are parked at airports around the globe as COVID-19 has emptied the skies. The number of commercial jets in service is now estimated to be the lowest in more than a quarter century  

Photo: Reuters

About 64% of all commercial aircraft worldwide have been idled due to the coronavirus crisis, according to findings released this week, with no certainty as to when travel restrictions will be eased or when customer demand will recover.

According to airline industry research firm Cirium, about 17,000 of the approximately 26,000 widebody, narrowbody and regional passenger jets in operation have been idled. The number of planes in service is now estimated to be the lowest in more than a quarter century.

In its April 17th update on the state of commercial fleets, Cirium said flights of Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s have nearly stopped, reaching a level this week that was nearly 99 percent lower than the level during the same period of 2019. Flights of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s were just below half of last year's level, while those of Boeing 777s was at 25% and those of Airbus A330s, Airbus A340s and Boeing 787s only 10%, according to Cirium.

As of April 14, almost 63% of the combined 777 and 787 fleet, and nearly 75% of all A330s and A350s, were inactive. Over 98% of the A380s worldwide and over 90% of all 747s have been grounded, Cirium said.

Some of the currently parked jets are considered likely to be decommissioned in an effort by the hard-hit airlines to phase out older, less fuel-efficient aircraft and avoid unnecessary costs.

Meanwhile, airports around the world have turned into giant parking lots. The main international airports in Hong Kong, Istanbul and Delhi are all said to have nearly 200 parked planes.

As the airlines slash operations to cope with the crisis, hundreds of pilots have accepted early retirement while thousands of airline staff have been laid off or put on unpaid leave.

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