SYDNEY—After the coronavirus pandemic grounded air travel, many of the thousands of aircraft that were parked at storage facilities around the globe seemed destined for the scrap heap.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, aircraft owners are junking fewer planes than just before the pandemic.

About 440 large commercial jetliners were scrapped in 2020, a roughly 15% decline compared with 2019, according to aviation-analytics firm Cirium. This year, the number of aircraft being junked is currently some 30% below last year’s volumes, said Rob Morris, Cirium’s global head of consultancy.

The slow pace highlights the challenge airlines face as they navigate out of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic travel is returning faster than international in some markets, but the pace of the recovery will differ from region to region, and airlines must retain the ability to ramp up quickly. Airlines struggling to afford new aircraft may also need to keep older models for longer.

Another factor: prices for spare parts are low because many planes are grounded and don’t need extra components. Aircraft owners generate revenue from parts taken out of scrapped planes, so they may wait until demand for spares rises before junking their planes.

Excerpt from WSJ

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