How much does cost the airlines to park plane?

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The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry, with some companies forced to shut down 100% of their fleet during the worst of the confinement due to travel restrictions and very low demand. Today, there are still more than 8,100 aircraft stopped around the world, 31% of the total fleet, according to Cirium data.

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This has hit their accounts directly, but not only because of all the money they have stopped paying in for months, but also because of the high costs of not flying. This is an expense that has multiplied over the last few months, and which has been added to other fixed costs such as personnel costs or aircraft leasing.

In total, the Airline Association (ALA) estimates that airlines in Spain paid 7 million euros per month during the state of alarm, a situation that could be repeated if, as is happening, home confinement returns and air traffic is again paralyzed.

See also: Why does Colombia eliminate PCR testing requirements to enter the country?

But how much exactly does it cost to have a plane parked?

The truth is that it all depends on the airport and the aircraft, but based on the AENA fees some references can be extracted about what Spanish airports charge to airlines.

The fee is around 987 euros per aircraft if it is parked for several days, 1,810 euros if it only stops for 24 hours, less if it is a smaller time slot. This is what is stated in the AENA tariff guide in its November 2020 edition, to which this Business Insider Spain has had access.

This figure refers to the prices in Madrid Barajas, Barcelona El Prat and the rest of the main Spanish airports, including some not so big, such as Ibiza, Menorca or Alicante.

Prices have not changed since the coronavirus pandemic began, confirmed by the public company, although it has allowed the postponement of payment of this tax for 6 months, so that airlines are now having to pay what they owe for the first months of the pandemic.

The guide also establishes prices for periods of 15 minutes: in that case, for example, in Madrid you pay 14 cents for each ton of maximum weight at the plane’s take-off, while in Bilbao, Fuerteventura and Seville the fee is cheaper: you pay 7 cents for the 15 minutes.

These are quantities that do not seem too large… until they are compared with the total number of planes that the airlines have, and that in many cases have been totally stopped during the confinement.

For example, Iberia has 145 aircraft. If I stopped them all, I would have to pay more than 4 million euros a month, 143,115 euros a day. In the case of Air Europa, with 43 aircraft, the cost would amount to 1.2 million euros per month, figures not at all ridiculous in the impaired income statements of these companies.

The IAG Group, which includes Iberia, British Airways, Vueling and Aer Lingus, has lost more than 5,500 million so far this year, while Air France-KLM has been left with 6,078 million in the same period, and the German group Lufthansa has recorded red figures of 5,500 million.

For all these reasons, the ALA association has been calling since April for the temporary suspension of these long-stay parking fees for planes stopped due to cancellations linked to the COVID-19, also demanding that the government use the dividends it has received from AENA for this purpose, and recalling that the air sector provides 13% of employment in Spain.

In this context, there are some airports that are increasing their income thanks to parked aircraft. This is the case of Teruel airport, which expects to earn 25% more this year partly from aircraft parking.

Also, Chateauroux airport, near Paris, is now more focused on aircraft storage than on travel, even having to turn away airlines that wanted to park there. It is also providing an opportunity for airports such as Ciudad Real, which had little activity before the pandemic and is now full of stopped aircraft.

“When the pandemic hit, right after the hunting season in February, we received dozens of requests to park planes,” Francisco Luna, the CEO of CR International, the owner of the airport, tells Bloomberg.

This is not the case for the manager of most Spanish airports, Aena, which has lost 107 million so far this year, although in its accounts it does not specify whether it is earning more than other exercises thanks to parking fees.

By Alba Asenjo