Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400 fleet hasn’t flown for much of the past year. Several aircraft have been sent to the Mojave desert on a one-way journey. However, three are stuck at Twente Airport in the Netherlands, with the clock running out on their ability to leave the site.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, airlines were left with a huge problem. What do you do with aircraft that aren’t flying? Most significant airports didn’t have enough space for all the aircraft grounded, leading to a surge in demand for long-term storage providers. Lufthansa sent six 747s to Twente in the Netherlands, which ended up creating more hassle than it may have been worth.
What’s the problem with the Boeing 747s
So you may be left wondering what’s the problem with three Boeing 747-400s being parked in Twente. The airline told Simple Flying that after its planes landed at the facility, the Dutch Aviation Authority changed the airport’s permissions.
According to the airline, when the aircraft arrived at the airport, Category E aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400 were permitted to land and take off from the airport for non-commercial MRO purposes, and for storage. However, this was then changed so that these aircraft could only land, but not depart.
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While Twente Airport has the facilities to dismantle a Boeing 747-400, Lufthansa does not wish for this to take place at the airport. Following an appeal, the Dutch Aviation Authority granted permission for the six Lufthansa Boeing 747s at Twente to depart the airport.
The issue with the permission that has been granted exists in its timeline. The permission for the one-off departures from Twente is set to expire after June 30th, with no extension to this deadline seemingly possible. This gives Lufthansa just three months to move its aircraft. A Lufthansa spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“Up to now there is no indication or perspective to exit LHs B744s beyond this deadline. In this light LH is working out alternatives scenarios to depart its remaining 3 B744s from ENS.”
Bad news for the airport?
According to the Dutch language publication Tubantia, it would prove costly to the airport if the remaining aircraft were to leave the field, as this would be viewed as a breach of contract. According to the publication, parking a 747 at the field brings in a revenue of around €10,000 ($11,750) each per aircraft per month.
However, if the aircraft left generating a breach of contract, Twente would then become liable for the cost of unstoring the aircraft, moving them to another facility, and then parking them once more. This is as it would presumably be unable to maintain its side of the contract signed with Lufthansa as the aircraft would be unable to leave next year as originally planned. According to the publication, this could amount to more than €800,000 ($940,000), meaning that the money earned from the contract would essentially be wiped out.
What do you make of Twente’s Boeing 747 drama? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!