Coronavirus Impact: Lack of passengers grounds about one-third of world's airliners and they need special care while idle

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Check out any Bay Area airport. They look all but abandoned and it's because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

When people don't fly, the airlines respond by taking aircrafts out of service.

RELATED: Oakland Southwest gate agent tests positive for COVID-19, I-Team asks if passengers will get informed
At Oakland International Airport we saw about a half dozen Alaska Airlines jets clustered together in a spot between terminals. You can find a similar sight at major airports across the country, especially in hub cities like Dallas or San Francisco's SFO, which has a huge maintenance center for United Airlines.

"The airplanes are meant to fly and the engines are meant to run," Hoi Ko, the chairman of the Aviation Maintenance and Technology department at the college of Alameda said.

He says parking a jet built to carry a couple of hundred people is not the same as parking your car.

"In short term storage they might have to run the engine from time to time, or they might have to run certain systems to keep them lubricated and operating" he said.

RELATED: Shelter in place for another 5 months? Here's what Stanford researchers are projecting

Otherwise the planes could suffer corrosion and need expensive repairs. But, if the drop in flights continues because of the virus, the aircraft would need longer term storage.

"For a long-term process they would drain everything and kind of pickle them" he said.
The International Air Transport Association says 8,500 airliners have been taken out of service worldwide. That's about one third of the entire fleet.

But Hoi says Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft manufacturers have manuals with procedures on short, medium and long term storage of airplanes. He says the flying public shouldn't worry about the safety of planes already airline fleets when they are back to full strength.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus crisis, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.