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Overhead storage: Airport has no more room for grounded jets

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No-fly zone: The tailfin of a grounded Onur Air Airbus SE A321 protrudes from a hangar at Chateauroux airport

No-fly zone: The tailfin of a grounded Onur Air Airbus SE A321 protrudes from a hangar at Chateauroux airport

No-fly zone: The tailfin of a grounded Onur Air Airbus SE A321 protrudes from a hangar at Chateauroux airport

France's Chateauroux airport, about 250km south of Paris, has built up a steady business over the years as a hub for freight aircraft and centre to train pilots, helped by its clear weather and few foggy days.

Yet in recent months, the former NATO military base has been generating revenue from a different source - the parking of jets grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The single-runway airport located in France's flat, central basin has now had to turn away airlines seeking to store more planes - a sign the global aviation slump is deeply set despite some easing of travel restrictions.

With the arrival of eight additional aircraft during the past week alone, Chateauroux is at close to full capacity, according to the hub's director, Didier Lefresne. As many as 50 jets are now stored on its parking spaces and two newly dedicated taxiways, with manufacturer Airbus and IAG's British Airways among the biggest customers.

Chateauroux's windfall mirrors the decline of the wider industry. . One third of the global plane fleet remains in storage, according to aviation database Cirium.

"From a financial standpoint, it's a good thing for Chateauroux," Lefresne said in an interview. "At the same time, it's very sad and reflects the dramatic situation unfolding in the industry."

At the height of European lockdown measures earlier this year, Paris airports operator ADP was storing some 350 grounded jets. Air France-KLM still has 90 aircraft stowed at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Bloomberg

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