Alice Springs desert plane storage: Singapore Airlines A380s, 777s arrive in Australian desert

Some of Singapore Airlines' biggest planes have landed in the Australian desert for storage during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Spectacular photos show Singapore Airbus A380 superjumbos and Boeing 777s lined up at Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) near Alice Springs.

APAS first opened in 2011 with capacity to store the world's largest passenger plane, but it's believed this is the first time A380s have been stored there.

The images, taken by Outback Photographics' Steve Strike, show the A380s dwarfing neighbouring jets.

"Some $5 billion worth of aircraft from around the world now being holed up in the desert near Alice Springs," Strike wrote. "I can't imagine the long term effects of this. I don't think anyone has any idea how travel in the world will be in the future."

Singapore Airlines confirmed that four superjumbos and three 777-200ERs were parked at the facility.

"The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in significantly reduced demand across the aviation industry and as a result Singapore Airlines has reduced its scheduled capacity by 96 per cent," a spokesman said.

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"Of a group fleet of 200 aircraft, only 10 are currently operating on scheduled passenger services."

Singapore Airlines is storing its aircraft in different facilities around the world "to ensure they are appropriately maintained during this period of depressed demand and activity.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and, when appropriate, will return the A380 aircraft to Singapore ahead of reintroducing them to our operations."

Singapore Airline subsidiary SilkAir had already been storing six Boeing 737 MAX planes at APAS after the MAX models were grounded worldwide last year following the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Air flights that killed 346 people.

APAS is currently working on expanding its facility to accommodate 100 planes.

Aircraft storage facilities, sometimes called "boneyards" due to airlines sending retired aircraft to them for dismantlement into scrap, are often located in deserts. The dry, arid climate means planes can be preserved in excellent condition before returning to service or being recycled.

Retired aircraft in boneyards are often stripped of parts like engines, electronics and wiring to be recycled.

The world's first A380 superjumbo, which took off in 2007, was decommissioned by Singapore Airlines in 2018 and sent to the storage facility Tarmac Aerosave near Toulouse, France. It was broken up late last year for parts, including turning some of its fuselage into luggage tags.

Data from analysts Cirium puts the number of grounded aircraft around the world currently at 16,100 - a total of 61 per cent of the world's passenger jets.

The aircraft are stored at 876 airports and facilities around the world, with the largest number, more than 350, at the Roswell International Air Centre in the US.

See also: Photos: Thousands of planes grounded around the world

See also: Inside the deserted, 'zombie' airports of the travel apocalypse

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