Airports are being repurposed as drive-in movie theatres, morgues, and a concert hall for one during the pandemic. See 7 ways airports are adapting without fliers.

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A one-on-one concert at Stuttgart Airport. Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance/Getty
  • The past few weeks have seen airports around the world being repurposed as their primary uses have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • While they can’t service the same number of their normal airborne clientele, airports can use their massive empty terminals and adjacent spaces for other means such as drive-in movies and COVID-19 testing.
  • Travel numbers are the lowest they have been in decades with airports across the US seeing less than 200,000 passengers combined since late-March.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Airports are finding themselves with more space than they know what to do with as fewer and fewer passengers have been coming through their doors since the beginning of the pandemic. No airport has been immune to the pandemic that’s affected airlines in nearly every country, especially as travel restrictions cripple even the possibility of most travel.

In the US, the country’s more than 5,000 commercial airports across the country haven’t seen more than 200,000 combined passengers since March 26, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

While their primary mission continues to be the facilitation of air travel, that mandate has become increasingly hard to achieve so some airports have begun to offer alternate services ranging from drive-in movies to COVID-19 testing. Airport administrators, governments, and businesses have all been finding ways to make the best of the unused space.

In some cities, heading to the airport now has a completely different meaning.

Take a look at the various ways airports have been repurposed as they muddle through the pandemic, just like the flyers they’re meant to be serving.


Birmingham Airport in England is offering the use of one of its hangars to be used as a morgue.

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An airport hangar turned morgue at Birmingham Airport. David Davies/PA Images/Getty

Read More:

A major UK airport is being converted into a morgue for thousands as the country prepares for COVID-19-related deaths to rise


The nondescript building will act as a central morgue for the West Midlands region as the UK continues to see an increase in COVID-19 deaths. The hangar offers capacity for around 1,500 with deaths in Birmingham nearing half that number.

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An airport hangar turned morgue at Birmingham Airport. David Davies/PA Images/Getty

Read More: A major UK airport is being converted into a morgue for thousands as the country prepares for COVID-19-related deaths to rise

Source: Birmingham Mail


Vilnius Airport in Lithuania converted its expansive tarmac area into a drive-in movie theatre.

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A drive-in movie theatre at Vilnius Airport. Andrius Sytas/Reuters

Source: Vilnius Airport


The project is called “Aerocinema – The Journey Begins” and is being undertaken in conjunction with the Vilnius International Film Festival.

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A drive-in movie theatre at Vilnius Airport. Andrius Sytas/Reuters

Source: Vilnius Airport


Cars with a maximum of two people lined one by one in the town’s newest theatre, tuning in to the movie’s audio via their car’s radio.

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A drive-in movie theatre at Vilnius Airport. Andrius Sytas/Reuters

Source: Vilnius Airport


The airport plans to keep the drive-in until at least the end of May while movie theatres in the Lithuanian capital are closed.

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A drive-in movie theatre at Vilnius Airport. Andrius Sytas/Reuters

Source: Vilnius Airport


Airports across the world are being repurposed into storage facilities for unused aircraft.

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Grounded airliners being stored at airports. Nick Oxford/Reuters

Read More:

Delta, American, and other airlines are parking planes on closed runways at major airports as carriers struggle to store grounded airliners


Runways, taxiways, and empty tarmac spaces have been filled with grounded airliners where they will wait until the demand for them rebounds.

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Grounded airliners being stored at airports. MARTIN SYLVEST/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty

In the US, nearly every airline is storing jets at major airports, with special procedures being required to maintain them during their downtime.

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Grounded airliners being stored at airports. Ben Bearup

Heathrow Airport in London has been largely repurposed into a medical depot as most flights inbound to the UK’s busiest airport have been bringing in well-needed medical supplies from abroad.

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A Virgin Atlantic cargo-only flight transporting medical supplies to the UK. Virgin Atlantic Airways

Source: Daily Mail


With around half of the UK’s supplies enter the country via the airport, Heathrow is shifting its operation to prioritise cargo flights, including those operated by passenger airlines on cargo-only aircraft.

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A Virgin Atlantic cargo-only flight transporting medical supplies to the UK. Virgin Atlantic Airways

Read More: Inside the massive effort by US airlines to transport medical supplies and mail on cargo-only flights using passenger jets

Source: Daily Mail


Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport is seeing part of its complex being redeveloped into a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.

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The construction of a field hospital at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Umit Bektas/Reuters

Source: Haaretz


Ground broke on the site of Istanbul’s former international gateway in April with the project expected to complete in May.

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The construction of a field hospital at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Umit Bektas/Reuters

Source: Haaretz


Stuttgart Airport in Germany is transforming one of its check-in halls into a concert venue for one.

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A one-on-one concert at Stuttgart Airport. Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Stuttgart Airport


Performers will offer one-on-one performances in the cavernous, yet empty terminal building for free, with patrons encouraged to make a donation.

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A one-on-one concert at Stuttgart Airport. Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Stuttgart Airport


Glasgow Airport in Scotland is offering its extra space for drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Glasgow Airport. Reuters

Source: Glasgow Airport


The tests will take place at the airport’s 17-acre long-term parking lot with only employees of the UK’s National Health Service being able to utilise the service.

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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Glasgow Airport. Reuters

Source: Glasgow Airport