Alice Springs Turned Into Plane Parking Lot As World's Airlines Scramble For Storage Space
As airlines around the globe ground their fleets amid COVID-19, incredible images have revealed exactly how and where the world's planes are being shelved -- including some in our own backyard.
A patch of dry desert dirt near Alice Springs has become an eerie backdrop for lines of "mothballed" aircraft.
Singapore Airlines has sent seven planes -- four superjumbo Airbus A380s and three Boeing 777s --to the Northern Territory's Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility, to join passenger jets from budget subsidiary Scoot.
The dry and arid landscape is "ideal" for the preservation of planes, APAS said.
Outback Photographics photographer Steve Strike captured images of the "global parking lot".
"Some $5billion worth of Aircraft from around the world now being holed up in the desert near Alice Springs due to COVID-19 travel downturn," he wrote on Facebook.
"I can't imagine the long-term effects of this. I don't think anyone has any idea how travel in the world will be in the future."
Meanwhile, some 200 grounded Qantas and Jetstar planes have been indefinitely parked at Australia's major airports, with crews engaged in constant maintenance to ensure the aircraft don't fall into disrepair.
This includes regular cleaning, hosing down the exterior, wheel rotation, tyre replacement, running engines and inserting moisture absorbers into them to keep humidity levels down, and protecting the planes from dust, insects and nesting birds.
Embattled carrier Virgin Australia also has its fleet parked at airports across the country.
Across the pond in Canada, the nation's second-largest fleet, WestJet, has been parked at Vancouver International airport.
American carriers Delta and Southwest have committed their planes to storage facilities in California, including former US air base Victorville north-east of Los Angeles, near the arid Mojave Desert. Delta has also parked dozens more of its planes at airports around the country.
US airlines United and American are grounding their fleets at major airports in Houston, Tulsa and Pittsburgh, and at smaller airports in numerous states.
'Boneyards' -- or where airlines send retired planes to be torn apart for scrap -- have also taken on storage duties, with major facilities in New Mexico, Arizona and Alabama now parking planes from carriers across North America.
Over in Europe, budget airline easyJet is storing its fleet across 30 different airports, while Frankfurt Airport has dedicated one of its four runways to parking grounded planes, including dozens from German carrier Lufthansa and its subsidiary brands. Airports in Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf and in regional cities have followed suit.
British Airways has some 50 of its aircraft parked at regional Bournemouth Airport, with more parked at Gatwick in Sussex, while Amsterdam's international airport is housing some 200 unused aircraft, and regional Dutch airports are also providing parking space.
Major middle eastern carrier Etihad has more than 80 percent of its aircraft grounded at Abu Dhabi's international airport, while in Dubai, more than 200 of Emirates' planes are indefinitely parked.
The story is the same in Japan, with Japan Airlines keeping its planes grounded on the country's runways.
With the world's air traffic down more than 95 percent since the start of the pandemic, airlines have had to secure storage space quickly, and few analysts can guess when planes will be back in the air.
Even when border and travel restrictions inevitably ease, the airline industry will likely never be the same, with many companies teetering on the brink of financial ruin. At least in the short-term, the world's boneyards, airports and desert facilities will be short on parking space.