A look inside Teruel Airport, Europe’s largest aircraft storage base

A look inside Teruel Airport, Europe's largest aircraft storage base

A look inside Europe’s largest aircraft storage base. Teruel Airport is situated near Teruel in the eastern part of Spain. It was opened for aircraft operations on the 28th February 2013. The airport is known for storage and MRO activities. There are no commercial operations in the airport. It has a storage capacity of at least 250 aircraft, making it the largest in Europe.

Where is Teruel situated ?

Teruel Airport is located in the Eastern part of Spain. It is located between the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza which are a part of the the largest cities in Spain. The location of Teruel Airport is an added advantage for the purpose of the airport.

A look inside Teruel Airport, Europe's largest aircraft storage base
Teruel Airport is located in the east of Spain with its location lying in the middle of Spain’s largest cities. Photo: GC mapper

Teruel Airport was never built for the purpose of commercial operation. It was solely built with a different purpose in mind. It was built to house MRO operations and for storage of aircraft.

The weather at Teruel also compliments its operations and its sunny through most parts of the year making more favourable for MRO operations as these would not be affected by the weather and can be carried out throughout the year.

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What operations take place in Teruel Airport ?

Teruel Airport opened in 2013 with a storage capacity of at least 250 aircraft. The airport offers long term parking, aircraft recycling , MRO services, aircraft painting and aircraft assembly. It is the storage hub for Tarmac Aerosave which is a leading MRO company in Europe.

It serves aircraft from all over the globe that have been withdrawn from service and require MRO operations. Aircraft which are sent here might be so as they might been deemed surplus for the requirement of the airline due to either the airline’s financial condition or owing to global market conditions.

The aircraft are also sent here waiting for a new buyer or might be due to financial reasons which have to be sorted out before the bird is in the air.

Teruel Airport storage from above
Aerial view of Teruel Airport. Photo: Pleiades @CNES 2017, distribution Airbus DS

The airport also houses rocket engine testing company PLD Space. It a Spanish company developing and testing rocket engines. Teruel Airport and PLD space had signed an agreement for a period of 25 years with an option of extending the agreement for 10 years. In the agreement PLD space will invest an amount of  €1M in infrastructure developing the airport.

Storage of aircraft does not mean the aircraft is flown into Teruel and kept on ground until called for service. It involved additional work and process to keep the aircraft in good shape such as covering on engines and sensors to prevent unwanted particles from entering, disconnecting power supply, draining out liquid such as kerosine, oil and water.

View of Teruel Airport
Teruel Airport has the capacity to house around 250 aircraft. Photo: Teruel Airport

The maintenance procedure varies from aircraft to aircraft. The advantage Teruel has over other storage facilities is its sunny weather as addition procedures would be enabled for different weather conditions.

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Why is Teruel special ?

One of the main advantages of Teruel Airport is its prime location. It is situated at the heart of Spain and in a favourable location in Europe. Storing sites with the features and size as that of Teruel Airport are limited across the globe. Being built in 2013, it is relatively a new airport for storage.

Teruel Airport taken from air
Teruel Airport is one of Europe’s largest storage and maintenance facility. Photo: Teruel Airport

The main requirement for storage are land and Teruel has plenty of them. Situated in a sparsely populated area of Spain the scope for development and expansion is very high. It already has a capacity of storing upto 250 aircraft.

Very few airlines in the world have in-house MRO services such as what Lufthansa as in Lufthansa-Technik. Teruel Airport has an added advantage of providing MRO services in addition to storage facilities.

With airports getting busier and lacking space for storage and maintenance, facilities like Teruel could be of use for airlines wanting to park their aircraft. Parking space at bigger airports tend to be more costly and availability is sparse. Given Teruel’s location it will be convenient for airlines at least based in Europe to fly in and out of the facility.

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Storing of aircraft in Teruel due to Coronavirus

Airlines throughout the world are storing their aircraft due to suspension of routes resulting from travel bans and restrictions. Airlines are storing aircraft in various airports and in runways of airports as they are running out of parking space.

Teruel as seen a variety of airlines send their aircraft here. Notably British Airways has sent 5xB747-400 here for storage. Lufthansa has also sent 3xA340-600 with the rest of its fleet following in the next few weeks for long term storage as the airline is restructuring its fleet.

Lufthansa set to store its A340-600 fleet
Lufthansa is set to store its fleet of A340-600 at Teruel Airport in Spain. Photo: Lufthansa

Ukraine International Airlines has also sent two of its long-haul B777-200 aircraft registered as UR-GOB, UR-GOC for storage in Teruel. Etihad had sent its A330-200 registered as A6-EYI in December 2019 as part of its phasing out operation of its A330 fleet.

With various airlines trimming down on operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is highly likely we will get to see other airlines send their aircraft here either for storage or for permanently retirement. Qantas and KLM, Virgin Atlantic are some of the airlines that have retired their long-haul aircraft.

Teruel is a good choice for airlines to store their aircraft temporarily or permanently because of its location, its capacity to hold several aircraft and the growing constraint of space at airports which proportionately increases parking costs.

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Conclusion

Teruel Airport is one of the fastest growing storage and MRO airports in the world. It has a combined feature of both being a storing facility as well as providing maintenance services. Plus it houses no commercial operations which means all its space can be used for storage and MRO activities.

With the uncertainty of when commercial aviation operations would be operated in full swing again, airlines will look to keep aircraft in storage which means places such as Teruel will be hosting a variety of airlines and aircraft in the near future.

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