The massive reductions in air service as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has put airlines in a tough spot. One of the first things they have done is ground a significant portion of their fleets. For some airlines with types that were due to go out of service before too long anyway, this just accelerated the plans. The KLM 747s were due to last until 2021 but they have been grounded and are not expected to return. As I have done with the end of 747 operations for other airlines in the past, this is a small tribute to the KLM 747 fleet. An interesting livery amongst a world of white jets.
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has resulted in plenty of parked jets. I have shown them at Paine Field but Boeing Field seems to be a big storage location. The employee parking lot has been turned into a 737 parking lot. I have seen jets over there before either awaiting engines or from customers that can’t pay but nothing on this scale.
I took a trip to South Park so I could walk across the bridge and get a good view down into the storage area. I made a rough count and think there were probably over fifty jets stored there. While Boeing cut the production rate after the grounding, they only took it down to 42 a month so jets are still coming out at a prodigious rate. This area is full so, aside from Paine Field and Renton, I believe they are flying them to other storage locations.
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet worldwide means that they have been coming off the production line and going in to storage. A few of them were scattered around the Boeing ramp at Paine Field. One was particularly interesting though. It seemed to have the front fuselage wrapped in something while the rear fuselage windows were not covered but had individual panels sealed across them. No idea what this was all about but it did look unusual.
Paul and I were in Vegas for Red Flag but the early morning is also a good time to shoot at McCarran International. The morning light is ideal for the north/south runways and, with the wind playing ball, you can get the iconic McCarran shots of jets taking off with the weird and wonderful hotel buildings behind them. Where else will you get a pyramid and the Empire State Building in the background. Southwest has a big presence at McCarran and we saw a string of their jets head out including one Max8. We watched it climb out little realizing that the grounding order would be coming within hours or even minutes. Whether the jet continued to its destination or turned around, we don’t know but that was its last commercial flight for a while.