The coronavirus pandemic has had wide reaching effects across a number of industries, but as stay-at-home orders spread, the transportation sector has been one of the most heavily affected. There has been an unprecedented decline in traffic throughout cities across the globe as commuting has effectively ground to a halt. But what about air travel?
As people have ceased traveling, and as the tight quarters of airports and airplanes are often seen as breeding grounds for sickness, air travel is facing an extraordinary downturn. In the U.S., the airline industry has seen flights drop 95% compared to last year. Globally, flights are down 63% overall. This has led to over 16,000 of the world’s commercial aircraft being grounded. Though, what exactly has become of all those planes? Commercial jetliners can’t simply sit in a hanger for weeks on end and then immediately be recalled back into service; planes need regular maintenance to make sure they remain safe and properly functioning.
Some airlines are suffering more than others: the largest of long-haul airplanes are seeing the least use, with essentially every single A-380 in the world currently grounded, meaning the situation is particularly dire for airlines focused on international travel. So how are airlines responding? CNBC takes a deeper look into how airlines are dealing with their surplus of planes, and the outlook for the future of commercial aviation.