More than 16,000 passenger jets are grounded worldwide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and airports are facing much larger issues than merely finding parking space for them. Last week, there were only 711 departures from the UK’s ten largest airports. At Heathrow alone, there would usually be 1,400 take-offs and landings. Per day.
Maintaining vital functions without revenue
Airports serve a vital function in society as hubs of communication and employment. Now, they are losing revenue on all fronts, with little wiggle room for cost reduction. Yet, they need to maintain operations for repatriation flights, increased cargo-only operations, and medical ambulance traffic.
As reported by BBC News, last week only 711 flights took off from the ten largest airports in the UK. Europe’s normally busiest airport London-Heathrow is operating with only one runway, and management has reportedly threatened employees with job cuts if they do not agree to substantial pay reduction.
London City decided to close its runways entirely, and it is indeed strange times when Luton Airport is busier than both Stansted and Gatwick. British Airways has parked nearly 40 aircraft at Bournemouth Airport, and at Belfast International, there have been no passenger flights since easyJet grounded services in March.
Analysts say that many UK airports will be at risk of closing as a result of the 90% drop in overall air traffic since the country went into lockdown one month ago.
Further across Europe, Amsterdam Schiphol has moved to a phase it is calling “Core Schiphol,” maintaining only two piers in operation. Frankfurt has turned one of its runways into parking facilities for dozens of aircraft.