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Revealed – the average ages of the world’s airline fleets

August 11, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Which airlines have young, shiny new aircraft – and which have the oldest and creakiest? A Swiss operation that specialises in providing up-to-date airline intelligence has revealed the answer and given specifics.

The Swiss firm is Ch-aviation. It shows that in our own region, Virgin Australia has reason to smile, as does Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui and Qantas’ Auckland-based trans-Tasman subsidiary Jetconnect.

Taking first place with the youngest fleet in the world is Norwegian UK. The average age of a Norwegian UK plane is just under one year. Hard to beat that!

Rounding out the rest of the world’s top five – all with an average fleet age of less than two years – are two Chinese airlines Colorful Guizhou Airlines (hands up anyone who’s heard of that!) and Loong Air (ditto) along with  Germany’s Eurowings, and Swiss Global Air Lines.

Here’s a fine old plane! Lufthansa once flew this Junkers Ju 52 German tri-motor plane, named Rudolf von Thuna. It’s now on display as a vintage model in Munich Airport’ Visitors Park. 

The results don’t break out Australasia as a separate region. It’s included with  Oceania. While Virgin Australia makes an appearance in the youthful category, Qantas isn’t mentioned at all. That may be because the average age of the Qantas fleet is somewhere in the middle and neither old enough, nor young enough, to be included in either extreme. The wholly-owned Auckland-based Qantas subsidary Jetconnect, which operates trans-Tasman services under the Qantas brand, gets a mention.

“What our data clearly shows is the tremendous growth in Europe and Asia over the past few years while they move to lower-cost models,” said Thomas Jaeger, chief executive of ch-aviation.  “And Chinese start-ups have the benefit of good access to capital for new aircraft.”

The bottom five was quite a different story, with Africa and North America doing battle for the oldest fleets. In bottom position, with the world’s oldest fleet, is Kenya’s Fly SAX with an average aircraft age of 36 years old, followed by Nolinor Aviation (Canada), African Express Airways (Kenya), Western Air Bahamas, and Pacific Coastal Airlines (Canada).

“Obviously we see something quite different in Canada and Kenya, which both have a lot of smaller carriers operating in remote areas,” Jaeger says. “And many African airlines which want to expand simply don’t have the cash for brand new aircraft.”

Taking out top spots for youngest fleet on each continent are:

  • Africa – RwandAir
  • Asia – Colorful Guizhou Airlines
  • Europe – Norwegian UK
  • North America – WestJet Encore
  • Oceania – Air Tahiti
  • South America – Conviasa

Ch-aviation claims to  maintain “the world’s largest and most comprehensive B2B databases in civil aviation, providing up-to-the-minute information on fleets, aircrafts, ownership, contacts, routes, and worldwide flight schedule data (in cooperation with OAG)”.

A note on methodology: ch-aviation included only commercial carriers with five or more aircraft with 30-plus seats.


Worldwide – youngest

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft incl.
Norwegian UK 0.99 Europe 5
Colorful Guizhou Airlines 1.21 Asia 6
Loong Air 1.73 Asia 22
Eurowings 1.77 Europe 23
Swiss Global Air Lines 1.78 Europe 19

 Africa – youngest

RwandAir 4.21 Rwanda 12
Kenya Airways 5.11 Kenya 32
Royal Air Maroc Express 5.15 Morocco 5
Air Arabia Maroc 5.32 Morocco 7
Air Austral 5.53 Reunion 9

Asia – youngest

Colorful Guizhou Airlines 1.21 China 6
Loong Air 1.73 China 22
Vistara 1.81 India 15
Batik Air 1.97 Indonesia 49
Qingdao Airlines 2.05 China 13

Europe – youngest

Norwegian UK 0.99 Norway 5
Eurowings 1.77 Germany 23
Swiss Global Air Lines 1.78 Switzerland 19
WOW air 2.05 Iceland 15
Canarias Airlines 2.76 Spain 7

North America – Youngest

WestJet Encore 2.23 Canada 40
LIAT 3.34 Antigua & Barbuda 10
Intel Aviation 4.22 USA 6
Volaris 4.55 Mexico 67
VivaAeroBus 5.06 Mexico 23

Oceania – youngest

Air Tahiti 4.31 French Polynesia 10
Virgin Australia International 5.78 Australia 20
Jetconnect 6.97 New Zealand 8
Air New Zealand 7.04 New Zealand 54
Virgin Australia 7.18 Australia 90

South America – youngest

Conviasa 3.56 Venezuela 9
LATAM Airlines Chile 3.61 Chile 68
Avianca Brasil 4.18 Brazil 46
Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras 5.21 Brazil 124
Avianca 5.35 Colombia 96

 Worldwide – oldest

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft incl.
Fly SAX 36.81 Africa 5
Nolinor Aviation 34.82 North America 6
African Express Airways 32.89 Africa 7
Western Air Bahamas 29.13 North America 7
Pacific Coastal Airlines 28.62 North America 7

Africa – oldest

Fly SAX 36.81 Kenya 5
African Express Airways 32.89 Kenya 7
Global Aviation Operations 28.08 South Africa 5
Dana Air 27.04 Nigeria 6
Skyward Express 26.33 Kenya 15

 Asia – oldest

Kam Air 26.84 Afghanistan 6
Trigana Air Service 25.52 Indonesia 12
Iran Aseman Airlines 25.40 Iran 24
Avia Traffic Company 25.26 Kyrgyzstan 5
Kish Air 25.08 Iran 9

Europe – oldest

Bukovyna Airlines 27.66 Ukraine 5
NextJet 27.52 Sweden 13
SprintAir 26.45 Poland 5
Bulgarian Air Charter 25.88 Bulgaria 17
DOT – Danu oro transportas 25.85 Lithuania 9

North America – Oldest

Nolinor Aviation 34.82 Canada 6
Western Air Bahamas 29.13 Bahamas 7
Pacific Coastal Airlines 28.62 Canada 7
Magnicharters 28.16 Mexico 9
Swift Air (USA) 27.29 USA 11

Oceania – oldest

Skippers Aviation 25.10 Australia 18
Alliance Airlines 24.61 Australia 33
Virgin Australia Regional 24.50 Australia 16
Network Aviation 24.11 Australia 17
Hevilift (PNG) 23.83 Papua New Guinea 5

South America – oldest

Peruvian Airlines 27.19 Peru 12
Laser Airlines 26.96 Venezuela 9
Aerovías DAP 26.60 Chile 11
Star Perú 26.49 Peru 9
Avior Airlines 26.39 Venezuela 15

Edited by Peter Needham

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