Booming business: Aircraft parking lots

In the arid desert near Tucson, Arizona, Ascent Aviation operates one of the world’s largest aircraft storage, maintenance, and reclamation facilities. The area’s dry and hot weather conditions are optimal for keeping parked planes in good condition.

Scott Butler, Ascent Aviation’s chief commercial officer said, “We’re seeing [aircraft] from all six continents, from multiple customers, all more or less going into long-term storage. Between five and eight aircraft per week arrive for storage, without many leaving.”

With airlines grounding thousands of unneeded planes, space is getting tight at these desert parking lots. According to Butler, global storage facilities are reaching about 75% capacity.

Butler shared, “We’ve got 1,200 acres and we can fit, in theory, about 450 aircraft depending on the different sizes. Right now, we’ve got [420 in Arizona, and we’re going to be starting up in New Mexico] next year. In February, we had under 100 aircraft.”

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