Air travel was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions, with many airlines opting to put aircraft into storage in spring 2020 until the market recovered. One carrier, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), stored 25 of its aircraft in Amman, Jordan, and in a symbolic moment on 19th December, the last of those aircraft was put back into operation, meaning the airline’s full aircraft fleet is back in service.
Jordan’s hot and arid climate is suitable for the long-term storage of aircraft, as the low humidity is not conducive to rusting of metal components. The aircraft underwent a thorough inspection by specially trained SWISS crew and a local MRO provider, with processes including flushing of the hydraulic systems and engine function checks. The aircraft – an Airbus A320 (HB-IJO) – then left Amman on Sunday 17th December after 1,180 days in the desert and was flown back to Zurich. It returned to passenger service on the morning of Tuesday, 19 December, departing from Zurich with flight LX974 to Berlin at 08:12.
“We are delighted to welcome the last of our Jordan-stored aircraft back to our flight operations and return our working fleet to full size,” said Claus Bauer, SWISS’s head of technical fleet management. “Our specialists have made huge efforts over the last few months to ensure that every one of our stored aircraft was brought back to Zurich in faultless technical condition. It’s been a massive undertaking for everybody involved in which every detail counts.”
HB-IJO in brief
The last stored aircraft, Airbus A320-200 (HB-IJO), was built in 1997 and is one of SWISS’s longest-serving aircraft, having been operated by the company since its foundation. The twinjet seats 180 passengers, and has performed more than 63,596 flight hours and 45,042 takeoff/landing cycles in its 26 years of service.