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How old is your plane? How to find out airline fleet age

April 15, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Which is better, an old aircraft or a new one? Most flyers would opt for the new one – and not without reason. It’s like a gleaming new car versus an old model.

For airlines too, a new fleet is generally better than an elderly one. Newer aircraft are more fuel efficient, which translates into lower costs. Fuel is generally the most significant single operating expense an airline faces. In an industry with fine margins, lower fuel costs are a big advantage.

Newer planes tend to offer more for passengers in terms of Wi-Fi technology and entertainment systems, though refurbishments can retro-fit those. Newer aircraft need less maintenance, which translates into savings for airlines. Island Hopping

One way of working out the age of an airline’s fleet is by using data from It’s not perfect, as AirFleets’ calculations are limited to what it calls “supported aircraft”, mainly Boeing and Airbus models. So while the figures should be fairly close to accurate they may not be absolutely precise. Also, they deal in averages, so an airline with a lot of flashy new aircraft and a few really senior ones in its fleet would still have a good, young-looking average.

You can drill further into the statistics to find the average for individual types of aircraft.

Qantas, for instance, has a fleet average of 9.4 years, according to AirFleets, but within that, its A330s are on average 6.9 years old, its A380s are on average 4.5 years old, its B747s are on average 16.5 years old and its B767s are on average 19.1 years old, according to the site.

Here are fleet age rankings from AirFleets for some well-known airlines (some Australian, others serving Australia, and a couple of wild cards) from newest to oldest. As you’d expect, more recent start-ups tend to have younger fleets, while those of longer-established legacy carriers are older:

Jetstar Hong Kong 0.5 years

Jetstar Japan 1.1 years

AirAsia (Philippines) 2.4 years

Tigerair Singapore 2.9 years

Jetstar Singapore 3.6 years

Virgin Australia 4.5 years

AirAsia (Malaysia) 4.5 years

Jetstar  Australia 5.2 years

Tigerair Australia 5.2 years

Ryanair 5.4 years

AirAsia X 5.6 years

Garuda 5.7 years

China Southern 6.3 years

China Eastern 6.4 years

Malaysia Airlines 7.2 years

Singapore Airlines 7.4 years

Philippine Airlines 8.3 years

Jetstar Vietnam 8.5 years

Air India 8.6 years

Cathay Pacific 8.6 years

Qantas 9.4 years

Air New Zealand 9.6 years

Virgin Atlantic 9.6 years

Thai Airways 11.1 years

British Airways 13.1 years

Virgin Australia regional airlines 14.9 years

Scoot 15.6 years


Here are the 15 largest airlines in the US, on the same criteria:

Virgin America 5 years

Spirit Airlines 5.2 years

Republic Airways 5.5 years

JetBlue 7.4 years

Frontier Airlines 8.2 years

Alaska Air 9.6 years

Hawaiian Airlines 10 years

AirTran 10.9 years

SkyWest 11 years

Southwest Airlines 11.7 years

US Airways 12.1 years

American Airlines 13.6 years

United Airlines 13.6 years

Delta Air Lines 16.9 years

Allegiant Air 22 years

(Within the final figure, Allegiant Air’s fleet of 47 MD80s and MD90s are listed as 24.2 years old, on average. It would be interesting to know the age of the oldest.)

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Interesting article but one point it misses is the age of the aircraft type. I would not willingly get on a B787 yet and am only just thinking that the A380’s might be okay. To use his new car analogy, everyone knows that the first model of a new car type is the one that has all the bugs, something you really don’t want in an aeroplane. As the updated models come out the bugs usually disappear. Remember that both the A380 and B787 were many years behind schedule in production due to problems with their design and/or manufacture. Both Boeing and Airbus paid out millions in compensation to airlines who were left waiting for aircraft. So is it unreasonable to wonder if those manufacturers pushed things through a little to get the aircraft out and about and to stop additional compensation payments? So I like a relatively new aircraft but of a tried and tested model.

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