Tails in the Desert- Grounded Planes in Aussie Outback

a group of airplanes on a runway

Alice Springs Airport ASP) is an Australian regional airport 13km (8 mi) south of the outback town of Alice Springs which has a population of just 33,000 people. It is is the only town and service centre in a neighbourhood as big as the US state of Texas! The city is 2,771.32 km (1,722.02 mi) from Sydney and Alice Springs was referred to as Stuart until 1933 and is informally known as ‘The Alice’ or simply ‘Alice’.

The airport has two runways. The longer runway can accommodate the landing of empty Airbus A380, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 aircraft. This has been significant as the airport has been used to store grounded aircraft for the last two years. Singapore Airlines even sent some of its massive A380s to Alice Springs in 2020, bringing almost the whole town out to watch. The lack of humidity (and low rainfall) in the central Australian region gives some protection to the aircraft.

a man standing in front of a fence

I checked out the place last October. The airport was able to store 100 planes and exceeded this number.

The airport was storing aircraft belonging to Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Fiji Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Nok Scoot, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia. At one point there were more empty seats on all the parked planes than residents in the town.

a group of airplanes on a runway

Since the middle of last year, the exodus of planes has been in full force with crews flying into Alice Springs, carefully checking and assessing each plane before restoring power, starting the engines and flying back to their home bases. There may not be a time when so many aircraft will be stored in this small town again. It was an awesome sight.

a map of the world with red lines
a group of airplanes on a runway
A forest of Cathay Pacific tails

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