A retired British Airways jumbo jet in storage at an airport in Spain caught fire Monday during the dismantling process, British Airways said after images of the event spread on social media.
Video from the scene at Castellón Airport shows smoke pouring from the cockpit area. Airport emergency crews quickly extinguished the fire, British Airways said. No injuries were reported.
The Boeing 747-400, which made its last revenue flight in April, is being scrapped by e-Cube Solutions, according to an Aug. 18 news release from airport owner Aerocas.
The big bird was parked on a remote stand for recycling, and local officials suspect the fire was caused by aircraft insulation catching a spark from dismantling equipment. An investigation into the cause is ongoing.
British Airways, part of International Airlines Group (LN: IAG), in August quickly retired its entire fleet of 31 Boeing 747 jumbo jets in a money-saving move made more necessary by the extreme drop in passenger business because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantines. The pandemic moved up plans to gradually phase out the four-engine airplanes, which are more expensive to operate than newer twin-engine aircraft. They were grounded since the start of the pandemic when bookings plummeted.
e-Cube Solutions bought four 747-400s from British Airways for disassembly at Castellón Airport, with tear down already underway on two aircraft.
Aerocas said it recently began preparing a new parking area for e-Cube Solutions that will cover 21,550 square meters and accommodate 15 to 20 aircraft of different sizes. The new pavement area was scheduled to be operational by mid-November.
In addition, Aerocas recently signed a 10-year contract with e-Cube for the development of aircraft parking and salvage activities. It also signed a 15-year deal with Brok-Air Aviation Group to develop aircraft maintenance and parking business, with an aircraft maintenance center and 2,500-square-meter parking lot to open by the end of the year. Brok-Air will soon receive 16 Airbus A-321 aircraft that it will store and maintain.
The regional Valencia government is actively working to expand the range of aviation services at Castellón Airport and make it an economic hub.