(CNN) – The busiest airports in Spain? Madrid and Barcelona come to mind and would normally be the right answer.
But when Aragon’s Teruel Airport recently ranked top in Spain’s airport activity rankings, it turned out to be something other than normal times – but then Teruel is not your typical airport.
The wind-swept steppe in the mountainous regions of eastern Spain is not possible for a busy airport. After all, we are talking about the most sparsely populated regions of Europe.
The state of Teruel is rarely found in the travel programs of tens of millions of tourists who visit Spain annually. Even among the Spaniards, this rural, beaten path target maintains the mystery atmosphere, as in a place heard by many but few visited.
Last year, a local political organization that named the first parliamentarian in the Spanish parliament called “Teruel Existe” (“Teruel Var”), a mission statement that hopes to relocate this region to nothing. map.
What is certain is that Covid-19 or aftershocks in the travel industry raise Teruel Airport’s profile in the aviation industry.
Because Teruel Airport users are not the passengers but the planes themselves.
A spokesperson said, “The climate in Teruel is suitable for” deep storage “, a condition where the aircraft can remain for a long time without major maintenance work and is protected as best as possible for it to start working again. .
Lufthansa, Etihad and British Airways planes parked on Teruel.
David Ramos / Getty Images
The airport is home to Tarmac Aerosave, a French aviation group that provides storage, maintenance and recycling services to the airline industry and manages two more similar areas in the south of France.
With the decline and uncertainty of passenger demand at the top of the sky over the future of the travel industry, several airlines have highlighted the dismissal of four-engine giants, and a few of them ended in Teruel.
No more room left
One of these airlines is Air France, which causes 180 aircraft to be stored from a total of 224 fleets. Most of them remained at the French bases in Paris and Toulouse, but a handful of the company flew to A380 on Teruel, announcing that it initially highlighted their retirement planned for 2022. Sources at Air France confirmed that as of June 11, the airline had five A380s in Teruel.
There, they will find companies in “Vienna”, “Zurich” and “Brussels”. Three A380 Lufthansa flew to Aragon airport. The German carrier is also sending the entire A340-600 fleet to Teruel and will be taken out of service in the next two to three months. These planes are not expected to return to service for at least a year and a half.
The arrival of so many large aircraft already contributes to a considerable workload at the airport, which has a storage capacity of up to 125 at any given time.
Teruel Airport, which is used for aircraft maintenance and storage, has received increasing demand due to the pandemic.
David Ramos / Getty Images
Pedro Sáez, Teruel facility director at Termac Aerosave, told CNN on June 17 that the company had 66 additional planes in storage and parking before the pandemic, while now there are 109 additional 43 planes.
The arrival of some very large aircraft (up to nine A380 and 40 A340) to Teruel in early June contributes to the substantial workload at the airport, which already has a storage capacity of up to 125 at any time.
How planes are protected
It’s too fast for the planned € 24 million ($ 26.9 million) expansion project, including an airplane painting facility and a large hangar capable of holding two A380s at the same time.
Airport managers are therefore considering how to optimize the available space. Twenty-five planes were previously placed on unpaved terrain, while employees were recalled from furlough. This is labor intensive because aircraft need special maintenance and maintenance during storage.
A hangar in Teruel.
JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP via Getty Images
Air France estimates that an aircraft in “active storage”, that is one to three months, requires about 150 hours of work in three stages.
It is the first preparation phase where engines, vents and other key areas are protected, fluids are drained and the wings and landing gear are lubricated.
This is followed by a repetitive inspections phase, which includes moving the aircraft periodically to reduce pressure on the tires and to restart engines and power regularly.
The slightly populated Teruel region is famous for its dry climate.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP via Getty Images
When it is time to put the Mavic back in service, procedures to maintain operational life can take two more days, remove guards, and perform additional checks.
Ironically, the same travel restrictions that increase activity levels at airports like Teruel are a limiting factor.
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