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World’s busiest airport shuts runway to create parking space for planes

Airlines struggle to find space for grounded aircraft

Helen Coffey
Tuesday 24 March 2020 17:02 GMT
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Delta planes are parked on an Atlanta airport runway
Delta planes are parked on an Atlanta airport runway (Twitter/@kimpaquette)

Airports are shutting runways to create extra space to park planes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to severely reduce the number of flights globally.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, has fully shut one runway, with reports that planes are being parked on two others as well, according to Simple Flying.

Twitter user Kim Paquette shared pictures of Delta jets parked on the Atlanta airport runway, with the caption: “600 of our 900 planes grounded and 3 of 5 runways in the busiest airport in the world are being used as parking lots.”

Many airlines are in the same position as aircraft that would normally be in the sky are all simultaneously grounded with nowhere to put them.

Paris-Charles De Gaulle has reportedly shut down two runways to park planes, while Delhi airport, the busiest in India, is almost at capacity.

The Indian government stopped issuing tourist visas for foreign nationals almost two weeks ago; now, with domestic flights being temporarily suspended too, space is at a premium.

Delhi is now close to being full-up, reports NDTV.

An airport spokesperson said: “We have allowed airlines to park at the remote bay area near runways. Many hangars have also been given to park the aircraft.”

A picture of aircraft parked on a runway at the airport was shared on Twitter, alongside the words: “The domestic flight ban comes into force tonight, planes are already parked on Runway 27.”

It’s not the first time airlines have struggled to find space for grounded planes.

In June 2019, The Independent reported that Boeing was forced to store some of its undelivered 737 Max jets in an employee car park after the aircraft model was grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes.

The beleaguered planemaker said the move was part of its “inventory-management plan.”

Footage taken by Seattle news station KING-TV showed a number of Tui aircraft parked alongside cars at the company’s Renton facility in Washington, US.

“We are using resources across the Boeing enterprise during the pause in 737 Max deliveries, including our facilities in Puget Sound, Boeing San Antonio and at Moses Lake,” said a Boeing spokesperson.

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