3 years ago this month, over 100 United Airlines aircraft were parked on Runway 08-26 at Denver International Airport.
This was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic causing a full-blown shutdown of the aviation industry, which meant thousands of aircraft had to be parked.
As you can see from the image above, you can see aircraft all lined up and parked all of the way into the distance and onto the horizon.
Runway 08/26 at Denver International Airport is a large runway spanning 12,000 feet in length.
George Merritt, who was the Senior VP of Strategic Operations at Denver International Airport between August 2020 and March 2022, said the following via his LinkedIn post:
“3 years ago this week: 100+ United Airlines aircraft parked on 8-26 at DEN. It’s crazy to think about even now.”
Looking Away from Denver & The COVID-19 Pandemic…
Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the core of the aviation industry, the years before were an enjoyable set for all aspects of the industry.
The rebound that was seen in 2011 highlighted 2,529 orders received from both Airbus and Boeing compared to 1,269 seen in 2010 and just 573 in 2009.
The highest peak for the two manufacturers was in 2014, when 3,346 orders were secured between them, and even continued to average out at around 2,000 orders per year until 2020.
Orders maintained at the same average each year as profits were rising, with it growing from $18.4 billion in 2012 to $58.6 billion by 2016.
Growth seemed to be on everyone’s mind at that point, especially with Indigo Partners, which owns Volaris, Wizz Air, Frontier, and JetSMART finalizing a $50 billion order for 430 additional Airbus A320neo aircraft back in December 2017.
In 2015, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) “announced global passenger traffic results for 2015…was the strongest result since the post-Global Financial Crisis rebound in 2010 and well above the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%”.
This trend was evidently seen, with the number of passengers traveling increasing between 2010 to 2020 (pre-COVID). 2010 saw around 2.7 billion people board scheduled flights, with it more than doubling to 4.7 billion by the beginning end of 2020.
Obviously, to cater to such increases, more aircraft are needed to operate more routes on a multiply frequented basis.
At that point, the industry had no concerns whatsoever about any potential downturn that may have followed the years after.
From the perspective of Denver International Airport & United Airlines, COVID-19 hit them hard, as did many other airports across the U.S. and the rest of the world.
With a busy Summer 2023 season ahead, things are back to more than normal. The industry is exceeding pre-pandemic figures, and things are definitely looking on the brighter side, that’s for sure.