The Australian Outback, it’s vast, it’s empty and it is full of well, nothing. Alice Springs, which is right in the middle of the outback is as pretty much as isolated as you can get, the closest city is a 15-hour drive away and the coast is even further. So why are so many A380’s landing there?
To put all of this in perspective, Alice (as the locals refer to it as) had only 5 arrivals today all operated by one airline (Qantas) none of which came from anywhere interesting (Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide), the town also has a population of only about 25,000 people. So what gives? Well, the thing is that these giants of the sky aren’t carrying anyone besides the aircrew and maybe some airline staff. They are also not coming to pick up anyone and don’t carry much cargo. So why are they landing here?
The answer is storage. You see, Alice Springs is in a desert and deserts limit corrosion, this is unlike the tropics (where most of this aircraft originate from) where aircraft rusting away is a bigger threat due to the humidity. The other thing about Alice is that it has a long 2.4km runway that can literally handle any aircraft including the A380, which is convenient for airlines like Singapore Airlines. Singapore, in fact, have a large number of their jets here including 6 A380’s. Other airlines including Cathy Pacific, HK Express, Scoot, Cathy Dragon, Tigerair and Silk Air also have a fair few aircraft resting at the 100 planes strong facility. The aircraft can’t just sit there however, they have regular maintenance performed on them and when they first arrive they need to be all taped up to prevent anything getting into them. The storage facility is running out of room though and plans to expand have already been approved by the local government with the “boneyard” is set to be able to accommodate up to 300 jets after completion.
All of this is pretty sad to look at but extremely interesting at the same time. I guess all of us just have to hope that this boneyard will be close to empty ASAP, planes should be flying people around the world, not sitting in the outback.
A sad sight image credit