How Many Planes Have Been Grounded Because Of The Coronavirus Pandemic?

an aerial view of an airport

I seem to be focusing mostly on the coronavirus scare right now.  I promise it’s not intentional.  With only enough time to write once a day (when I’m lucky) these have been the things of most interest to me:

I wrote a couple days ago about the astounding number of airlines that had grounded their entire fleet (over 50 now).  The data is being compiled in a Google Doc by a handful of friends of mine:

I decided to do some math on the Google Doc data now that they have fleet numbers listed for the majority of airlines.  Keep in mind that these reduction numbers are generally based on capacity.  For example, an airline might say it’s cutting 20% of capacity, and that might not be a 20% cut in the actual number of planes.  It stands to reason the two numbers should correlate, though.  And, obviously airlines that have stopped flying altogether are really easy to figure out how much of the fleet is on the ground.

Once I threw together a quick tally, I had to pause.

Could there really be 10,000 planes on the ground right now?  Yes, there really are.

10,000 Planes Grounded Worldwide

It’s a stunning number to me.  Now, not all planes are created equally.  Some of these have 8 seats, others have 500 (or more).  I haven’t done the math on the number of seats, but I probably will, or hope someone else does.  From there, you’ve got industry standard numbers to nerd out on with acronyms like ASM (available seat miles) and ASK (available seat kilometers).

While I’m hoping to dig in more to the math, let’s just step back from the details for a minute.  There are plenty of rumors that the major US airlines are planning to ground their entire fleet for a couple of weeks or longer.  It seems there’s a new announcement daily of another airline that’s cutting capacity or grounding their fleet entirely.  It’s amazing to think that there are 10,000 planes on the ground instead of earning money flying travelers here and there.  It’s even just a bit more amazing to consider that the number is likely to grow before it gets smaller.

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Featured image courtesy of Tupungato-Bigstockphoto


  1. COVID-19 is affecting us worldwide and this is sad. 🙁 Even here in the Philippines domestic flights are cancelled until the enhanced community quarantine is over.

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