March 16, 2020

Top 10 Airlines by Fleet Size

Over the past few years, airlines throughout the world have been consolidating their aircraft fleets. With increased fuel costs, greater competition and newer aircraft able to carry more passengers and fly further than ever before has seen many older less profitable aircraft taken out of service and either mothballed or broken up for parts.

Keeping accurate airline fleet figures of both incoming and outgoing aircraft is challenging and can only be created from information in the public domain. Furthermore, the rapid growth of such airlines such as Ryanair in Europe and several in China such as China Southwest, are clear indications that this list will not always be accurate. The following listing is our interpretation of the current situation and is of course subject to change.

Airline groups such as the Lufthansa Group (includes Lufthansa and relevant brands, German Wings, Swiss International Air Lines,  Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines), IAG (Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level and Vueling) and KLM/Air France collectively have more aircraft as an airline group than some on the list below, however for this top 10, we are only looking only at single airline fleets. 

10. Turkish Airlines: 335 Planes

Turkish Airlines operate scheduled services to over 300 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, making it the largest carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations (excluding regional brands). It serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in the world. Turkish Airlines also flies to 122 countries, which is more than any other airline.

Information correct as of November 2018.

9. Air China: 400 Planes

Air China 777

Source & Copyright: Airline Fleets

Air China Limited is the flag carrier and one of the major airlines of the People's Republic of China and today carries over 105 million domestic and international passengers with an average load factor of 81%.

Air China's route network extends throughout Asia to the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America from its hubs at Beijing Capital International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

Information correct as of November 2018.

8. Ryanair: 450 Planes

Ryanair operates nearly 450 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and is the second largest low-cost airline in the world. The airline has been characterised by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. Ryanair's route network serves 35 countries in Europe, Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel and Jordan).

In 2016, Ryanair became the largest European airline by scheduled passengers flown and carried more international passengers than any other airline. All their planes are identical, and this is the crucial part of their business strategy enabling them to order parts in bulk, have the same engineers and generally benefit from not having to service lots of different models.

Information correct as of November 2018.

7. China Eastern Airlines: 519 Planes

China Eastern Airlines is based in Shanghai and is China's second-largest carrier by passenger numbers. China Eastern Airlines has a strong presence on routes in Asia, North America and Australia and the airline is looking to exploit the domestic market potential as it boosts flight frequencies from Shanghai to other Chinese cities. The airline is also accelerating the pace of international expansion by increasing flight frequencies to international destinations. The company carries over 85 million passengers annually and has nearly 170 new aircraft on order.

Information correct as of November 2018.

    6. FedEx: 671 Planes

    FedEx Express, formerly Federal Express, is an International cargo airline based in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. FedEx Express operates the world's largest cargo air fleet with 671 aircraft, and is the largest operator of the Airbus A300, ATR 42, Cessna 208, McDonnell Douglas DC-10/MD-10, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-11.

    It is the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and delivers packages and freight to more than 375 destinations in nearly every country on a daily basis. FedEx has 386 large jet freighters aircraft operated by the FedEx Express fleet and a further 285 smaller turboprop aircraft operating in the FedEx Contracted Feeder Fleet.

    Information correct as of November 2018.

    5. Southwest Airlines: 683 Planes

    Southwest Airlines operates more than 700 Boeing 737 aircraft and carries the most domestic passengers of any United States airline. The airline has scheduled services to 99 destinations in the United States and ten additional countries.

    The average age of a Southwest Airlines plane is circa 11 years, and again on average Southwest aircraft makes about five flights each day, spending more than 11 hours in the air. Although being a low-cost airline, on-board facilities are excellent. All of Southwest’s planes are equipped with broadband, offering customers live and on-demand TV and Movie options and were the first airline to offer such a service in 2013.

    Information correct as of November 2018.

    4. China Southern Airlines: 700 Planes

    The Guangzhou-based carrier and its subsidiaries currently operate 700 aircraft. By 2020, it expects to have a fleet of 1,000 and is destined to become the largest airline in the world, with passenger numbers hitting 160 million.

    Its long-haul fleet is currently operated by the Airbus A380, the Boeing 777-300ER, 787-8 and A330. Their A320 and 737 fleet are meanwhile used for its domestic and southeast Asia network. China Southern is the largest carrier by fleet size in China.

    Information correct as of November 2018.

      3. United Airlines: 758 Planes

      United Airlines has one of the largest fleets in the world and operates an all Boeing and Airbus fleet of 758 aircraft. It flies to over 230 destinations and 125 international destinations in 48 countries across Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Oceania. United's domestic route network operates from seven hubs including Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Denver, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles and Los Angeles.

      Information correct as of August 2018.

        2. Delta Airlines: 879 Planes

        Delta's fleet consists of 879 Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas aircraft. Delta's 509 Boeing aircraft make up about 58% of its fleet, while its 238 Airbus aircraft makes about 27% and 132 McDonnell Douglas aircraft makes up about 15%.

        Delta operates the largest fleets of the Boeing 717, the Boeing 757, the Boeing 767, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 worldwide. It is one of only two airlines worldwide operating the Boeing 767-400ER (the other being United Airlines), and the only airline in the world still operating the MD-90. Delta has one of the oldest fleets of any American airline, with an average fleet age of 16.2 years as of 30 September 2018

        Information correct as of November 2018.

          1. American Airlines: 956 Planes

          American Airlines operates a fleet of 956 aircraft, making it the largest commercial fleet in the world. It primarily operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing planes, supported by an assortment of Embraer and McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

          Over two thirds of American's aircraft are narrow-bodies, mainly Airbus A320 series and Boeing 737-800s. It also operates Boeing 757s, Embraer 190s, and McDonnell Douglas MD-82/83s, but most of the latter are planned to be retired by 2019 and 2020 and will be replaced by the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Airbus A321neo aircraft.

          Its wide-body aircraft are mainly Boeing airliners. It is the third-largest operator of the Boeing 767 series and the fifth-largest operator of the Boeing 777 series. It also operates the Airbus A330.

          On 6th April 2018, adding to its existing order for 42, American ordered an additional 47 Boeing 787 which includes 22 787-8 and 25 787-9, costing over $12 billion at list prices.

          Information correct as of July 2018.


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