The SWISS aircraft fleet is back at full strength from today with the return to flight operations of the last aircraft which had been placed in long-term storage in response to the corona crisis. The aircraft, Airbus A320 HB-IJO, returned on Sunday from Amman in Jordan, and operated its first passenger service today after three years in the desert. SWISS put a total of 25 aircraft into storage in Amman in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) stored 25 of its aircraft in Amman, Jordan during the coronavirus pandemic as a logistical response to the consequent collapse in travel demand. The SWISS fleet was restored to full operating strength today, though, with the return to revenue service of Airbus A320 HB-IJO, the last of these stored aircraft. Following a thorough inspection by a specially trained SWISS crew, the aircraft left Amman on Sunday after 1,180 days in the desert and was flown back to Zurich. It returned to passenger service this (Tuesday) morning, departing from Zurich with flight LX974 to Berlin at 08:12.

25 aircraft stored

SWISS experienced a huge slump in demand for its services during the coronavirus pandemic, and was compelled to massively reduce its flight operations from spring 2020. As part of this response, 25 SWISS aircraft were stored in the Jordanian desert. Under the leadership of SWISS’s own technical specialists and in collaboration with the local maintenance, repair and overhaul provider, all the aircraft stored were subjected to regular inspections of their installed equipment. Further ongoing attention included regular flushing of the hydraulic systems and engine function checks. Jordan’s hot and arid climate is especially conducive to the long-term storage of aircraft, as the low humidity provides optimum protection against any rusting of their metal components.

“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,” says SWISS Head of Technical Fleet Management Claus Bauer. “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

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 some 63,596 flight hours and 45,042 takeoff/landing cycles in its more than 26 years of airline service.