Abu Dhabi International Airport has become a big parking lot for aircraft

Before COVID, Etihad operated more than 100 flights per day. Today, just two Etihad flights departed from AUH. Most of the airline’s fleet of 103 aircraft are grounded, including its ten A380s. But, unlike other airlines, Etihad does not need to reposition its planes for storage; it has been able to park most of its fleet at its Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) hub.

This is possible for a few reasons. First, AUH is a massive airport that spans 3,400 hectares. In comparison, LAX occupies 1,400 hectares. AUH is just a quarter smaller than Hartsfield-Jason Atlanta International Airport – the busiest airport in the world – and it handles about 90 million fewer passengers.

AUH is also dominated by Etihad. There are a few other airlines that fly into AUH, like British Airways, Turkish Airways, KLM and Wizz Air, but the vast majority of the traffic at AUH comes from Etihad.

With lots of open space and a lack of competing traffic, Etihad has been able to turn much of AUH into an airplane parking lot. The airline’s A380s fill designated parking areas, and overflow aircraft now sit in taxiways. You can see nine of Etihad’s A380s above; the airline’s last A380 is near its hangar.

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Etihad is also parking aircraft at gates. This is possible of course, since Etihad has less than five flights flying out of AUH on a given day.

This is a scene that has become increasingly common at airports across the globe. We can’t wait to see these A380s get back in the air.