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Coping with
a Glut of Aircraft — December 2020

Cloud Image

At the end of November nearly a third of the world’s fleet of some 30,000 jet aircraft were parked or in storage: this is equivalent to the total number of aircraft that had been in commercial service in 1990; in one year wiping out more than a decade of growth.

In any normal year there is a small proportion of aircraft that are temporarily parked or mothballed — pending return to service, conversion or scrappage (see chart). Over the past three decades this has averaged 3% of the total world fleet (slightly more than the natural retirement rate), but has tended to fluctuate depending on the state of the economic and aviation cycles. The ratio shows peaks of 5% after the 1990 downturn and 5.0-5.5% between 2002 and 2004 in the aftermath of the September 11th calamity. In the past decade it has averaged 2%.


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