The recent grounding of Australia’s ultra-low cost carrier, Tiger Airways, over safety concerns, got us thinking: what other significant airline groundings have we witnessed in recent years and how do they compare? Well, we’ve done the homework for you – here are our top five:
- Lineas Aereas Azteca (2007, 9 planes over 6 months)
The Mexican government suspended operations of budget airline Lineas Aereas Azteca in March 2007 citing safety concerns and failure to comply with administrative and technical procedures. In October 2007 the Mexican airline association allowed it to restart operations and Azteca was invited to join Star Alliance. The airline, however, ceased operations before it was able to join.
- Conviasa (2010, 26 planes over 2 weeks)
Conviasa, the Venezuelan carrier received the no-fly order for all its 26 aircraft after a crash of one of its planes on 17 September 2010. The airline’s flights were re-instated two weeks later.
- Southwest Airlines (2011, 80 aircraft over 3 days)
On April 1, 2011, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 had to make an emergency landing in Yuma, Arizona after an almost 2 m (6 ft) wide hole appeared in the top of the airplane’s fuselage. The airlines grounded all other of its 737-300 fleet and inspected them for similar cracks. Subsequently the airline found 3 other planes with similar faults.
- Qantas (2010, 6 planes, 2.5 months)
Even though this grounding only involved 6 aircraft, it received a very high global attention as the airline grounded the world’s largest airliner: the Airbus A380. On 4 November 2010 Qantas Flight 32, fitted with four Trent 972 engines manufactured by Rolls-Royce suffered an uncontained turbine disc failure of its left inboard engine shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN; LD reviewed). The flight returned to Singapore and landed safely. In the aftermath Qantas swiftly grounded all of its 6 A380 for 2.5 months.
- Swissair (2001, the entire fleet)
Even though this grounding happened almost a decade ago, it’s still our number 1 grounding in recent times: Unable to make payments to creditors on its large debt that yielded from a failed strategy and the aftermath of 911 the entire Swissair fleet was abruptly grounded on 2 October 2001. Flights were later reinstated but in March 2002, SAirGroup, Swissair’s parent company was handed over for liquidation ending 71 years of service of the Swiss icon.