Spanish skies

Our sister publication Avion Revue looks at how Spanish aviation has dealt with the last 18 months – and its preparations for the post-pandemic world

The COVID-19-driven drop in air traffic is hardly news to anyone, but its effect on Spain – famous for a usually buoyant tourism sector – has seemed especially cruel. Its impact is perhaps most easily illustrated by the sheer number of aircraft parked idly at airports.

In 2019, the last ‘normal’ year, some 1,500 aircraft could be found parked on Spanish tarmac over the course of a typical week. In April 2020, when Europe was gridlocked, 5,000 aircraft that should have been flying regularly each week joined those parked at the country’s airports. At the peak of the crisis, almost 7,200 aircraft were occupying aprons, taxiways and even runways across Spain.

Last year saw some recovery in traffic, and the number of aircraft in storage fell to 3,500. The arrival of autumn and successive waves of COVID-19, however, brought many aircraft back to the ground, while the Christmas holidays barely registered in terms of passenger numbers. New travel restrictions and Spain’s third wave at the beginning of 2021 brought the number of idle aircraft back above 5,000.

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