Six Lufthansa Boeing 747s stuck at Twente Airport because runway is too short for them to leave

The initial plan was that the aircraft would never have to leave.
The initial plan was that the aircraft would never have to leave. Photo credit: Enschede Airport Twente

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect air travel, space on the ground to park hundreds of large aircraft currently out of service is at a premium.

The desperation to find more storage space may have been one of the contributing factors which led to six Lufthansa 747s landing and being stored at Enschede Airport Twente, which has a runway so short, the jumbo jets aren't legally allowed to take off from there.

The director of the Netherlands airport, Meiltje de Groot, describes the situation as, "too absurd for words". 

The 'absurd' situation arose after Twente airport authorities believed the aircraft were landing in order to begin a dismantling and scrapping process, but then the airline's plans changed and they no longer wanted the aircraft scrapped and wanted them sent to another storage location.

The problem is that while the runway at Twente Airport is fully capable of having large aircraft land on it, it's not certified for any of them to take-off.

"Twente Airport simply does not have the correct safety certificate. Larger aircraft such as the Boeings can land at Twente, but only for dismantling. The airport's infrastructure is not suitable for taking off larger and heavier aircraft," de Groot said.

"The planes came here because Twente is one of the few airports where there is still room to park such large planes. Of course we hoped to be able to dismantle them here as well, but the owners have decided otherwise.

"It is incomprehensible that there is a sudden blockage."

As legal action appears likely to come from both sides, time is running out. Other aircraft are already due to land at Twente Airport to be dismantled, but are being delayed while Lufthansa's aircraft continue to take up the small amount of parking space available.