Unlike the majority of the world’s airliners, post-COVID-19 capacity levels are up in the air. The only certainty is that the industry which emerges from the coronavirus crisis will be far leaner. Martin Needham reviews recent retirements and widebody withdrawals.
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, overcapacity swept airliners from the sky and into storage. With questions surrounding the ongoing crisis remaining unanswered, airlines are anticipating that their industry will come out the other side far leaner than it entered. In anticipation, carriers across the world have been quick to identify the weaker links in their fleets and earmark them for early retirement.
Virgin Atlantic was quick to act, prematurely bringing down the curtain on its trio of Toulouse-built Airbus A340-600s on March 8. The carrier flew the three jets to Glasgow, ending a 23-year association with the quad-jet, during which time it had operated 29 examples, which included ten A340-300s and 19 of the longer -600 variant.