Europe’s largest aircraft graveyard is an airport that hosts no passengers

  • Europe’s largest aircraft graveyard is in a Spanish airport
  • It has room for around 250 planes
  • Zero commercial passengers travel through the airport

Published on Jun 05, 2024 at 12:02 PM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jun 05, 2024 at 9:19 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Europe’s largest aircraft ‘graveyard’ is in a Spanish airport that has absolutely zero passengers traveling through. 

Teruel Airport, which also goes under the commercial name Plataforma Aeroportuaria-Teruel or PLATA for short, was once a military base but has since been repurposed as an aircraft maintenance and aircraft storage facility. 

The airport hosts the facilities of the French aviation group Tarmac Aerosave, which specializes in storage, maintenance, and recycling services for the airline industry. 

READ MORE! Airport employee spotted giving old plane bound for scrapyard one last flight

You might be aware that airplane maintenance can be big business – for an idea of how big take a look at the estimated running costs of the now-defunct Concorde – so facilities such as Teruel Airport are not uncommon throughout the globe, where they can also act as a bit of a graveyard for ‘retired’ planes.

However, spanning a whopping 550 hectares and with long-term storage space for 250 aircraft, PLATA is the biggest in Europe. 

It’s dry-climate makes it an ideal spot for long-term plane storage. 

A spokesperson for German airline Lufthansa told CNN in 2020: “The climate in Teruel is suitable for ‘deep storage’, a condition in which the aircraft can remain for a long period of time without major maintenance work and is preserved in the best possible way for a later resumption of operations.”

It’s also in a relatively quiet part of Spain, with airport manager Alejandro Ibrahim telling Reuters: “Teruel’s climate is dry – semi-desert with more than 250 days of sun per year.

“Also there is very little air traffic congestion which makes it the ideal place for plane preservation and maintenance.”

PLATA is owned by a consortium formed by the Government of Aragon and Teruel City Council, and it does not belong to AENA Group –  the Spanish airports’ management company.

This, of course, makes sense as the airport is not equipped for passenger traffic. 

This means that when the rest of the world’s airports all but ground to a complete stop during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was quite the opposite for Teruel Airport. 

The number of planes arriving to be parked at the airport per week doubled during the first few months of the global pandemic.

Pedro Sáez, Teruel plant director at Tarmac Aerosave, told CNN that prior to the pandemic the company had 66 planes in storage but by June 17 2020 that number rose to 109.

# Tags - Airplanes, Travel


Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.