The world’s most famous storage and scrapping airports are well known and can be found in the western United States.
Places like Mojave and Victorville in California, plus Marana, Tucson and airfields around Phoenix in Arizona, are great because of the dry weather which preserves aluminium.
In recent years airports like Teruel in Spain have also come to the forefront of airliner storage and scrapping for a similar reason.
But here in the UK, there are also some places you can go to find airliners in retirement, long-term storage, or being scrapped into parts. The weather here doesn’t really suit outdoor storage, so it’s usually the case that airliners do not fly again, but they’ll often sit for months before being scrapped.
Here are the main UK airports and airfields to see stored airliners.
Kemble Cotswold Airport
Perhaps the most famous UK storage and scrapping airfield is Cotswold Airport at Kemble, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
A steady stream of airliners come here to be stored and scrapped. You’ll see them parked in all available areas while awaiting their fate.
See our full list of stored airliners at Kemble here.
Located only a short distance from Cardiff in South Wales, St Athan is a former military airfield which is now home to eCube Solutions which specialise in dismantling, parting-out and scrapping airliners. Like Kemble, all manner of airliner sizes have arrived here, and from some exotic locations.
The South Wales Aviation Group keeps this webpage up-to-date with the latest arrivals
This airfield in Leicestershire has a great little collection of significant airliners (and other aircraft) which any enthusiast would want to see. They’re a mix of both preserved aircraft (part of the Cold War Jets collection, such as the world’s last active de Havilland Comet and a Aero Spacelines Guppy, as well as a few long-term stored aircraft which include the former Royal Air Force L1011 fleet and a few Boeing 747s.
Sadly the airfield was recently sold and its future doesn’t seem to be in aviation, so the future of all these important aircraft is up in the air. Hopefully they can be relocated to museums or kept on site somehow.
An airfield famous in wartime, as well as in the days of Dan-Air London who used it as an engineering base, today Lasham is still used for airliner storage, maintenance and scrapping. There are a few long-term Boeing 727s and 737s here, and various other airliners pass through.
Lasham is located near Alton in Hampshire, about 45 minutes from London Heathrow.
See our list of stored airliners at Lasham here.
Bournemouth Airport in South West England is fairly quiet for commercial flights, but as a former aircraft construction site it has maintained a status for airliner engineering and storage. In fact, recently much of the British Airways short-haul fleet has been sent there for storage during the Covid-19 downturn.
You’ll often see some wide-body jets parked up, including Airbus A340s formerly flown by Etihad and Virgin Atlantic.
A relative newcomer to the UK storage airport scene, Teesside in North East England is a small regional airport which recently became a base for Willis Asset Management who refurbish airliner engines and, as a by-product, often scraps the airliners they come from. The first aircraft to arrive, in August 2020, was a former SAS Boeing 737-700.
For a few years in the early 2010s Teesside was home to Sycamore Aviation, who scrapped various airliners on the site, from ATR 42s to Boeing 767s.
Glasgow’s second airport, Prestwick, has been associated with airliner storage for a long time. I remember the retired British Airways Tridents going there following retirement, and for a long time you could see a Boeing 747-200 languishing there. Recently Ryanair has used the airport for storage, as well as Norwegian.
England’s most easterly airport seems to have a regular host of stored airliners parked out along its northern areas. Recently these have included the former BRA RJ100 fleet and some Saudia ERJ-170 aircraft.
Other airliners often passing through Norwich are being worked on by the on-site KLM Engineering base and will usually move on after a few weeks.
Newquay Cornwall Airport
Way down in the south-west corner of England in Cornwall is Newquay Airport. It has a small number of regional air routes, and the on-site Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre with resident BAC 1-11 and Vickers VC10 aircraft. There is also a company on the south side of the site which stores and scraps airliners. Recent examples include former Thomas Cook and Emirates Airbus A330s, and Interjet A320s.
The days of Coventry as a thriving airport with passenger flights and the vintage fleet of Air Atlantique operating seem to be long gone sadly. But it is still a busy general aviation airfield and, for the time being, a fleet of retired BAe ATP airliners still sit looking forlorn among the hangars on the western side (as well as some other vintage airliners). They will probably disappear in the near future.