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The youngest airline fleets are still in Asia, ch-aviation analysis reveals

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Swiss airline intelligence provider ch-aviation today revealed the names of the world’s youngest airline fleets, measured in average aircraft age. It is the second such ch-aviation analysis on the topic, and the company’s first report was published two years ago in August 2017. Analysis shows several of the youngest airline fleets are in Asia, while “Norwegian Air Sweden” tops the list as the commercial carrier with the youngest fleet of aircraft on a global scale. “VietJetAir” has the youngest aircraft fleet of the large airlines (those with 50 aircraft or more). In the very large airline category, (100 aircraft or more) “Aeroflot” takes the crown for the youngest airline fleet.

The average aircraft flying the globe is 12 years old, shows ch-aviation’s analysis of more than 30’000 active commercial aircraft. This includes passenger and cargo aircraft.

The youngest airline fleets are in Asia with an average age of 8,5 years. The oldest fleets are in the Africa and Oceania regions, where the average fleet is more than 16 years old.

“Our data clearly shows that Asian airlines continue to see tremendous growth, especially the low-cost carriers. This coupled with good access to capital for new aircraft leads to the youngest fleets being in this part of the world” said Thomas Jaeger, ch-aviation CEO.

The airline with the world’s youngest fleet is “Norwegian Air Sweden” which operates a small fleet of 5 aircraft with an average age of 0,74 years. Interestingly, the Swedish subsidiary of “Norwegian” took the crown from another of the firm’s subsidiaries, “Norwegian UK” which was named as having the world’s youngest fleet in 2017. This year “Norwegian UK” took 3rd place, giving up the lead not only to its Swedish sister, but also to “Wizz Air UK”.

Mr. Jaeger further elaborated on Europe’s youngest airline fleets: “We found the interesting phenomenon in Europe where the youngest fleets belong to airlines operating as branded, in-house subsidiaries of larger airline groups. The uncertainty of Brexit, airlines looking for lower-cost operating models and a flux of other reasons mean European airlines are creating subsidiaries in different countries and in many cases moving their youngest aircraft to these newly created entities. Good examples are “Norwegian”, “Wizz Air”, “Ryanair” and “SAS” – these airline groups took all 5 leading places in Europe”.

The airline with the youngest fleet in Asia is Saudi low-cost airline “flyadeal” which operates a fleet of 12 aircraft with an average age of just more than a year. The youngest fleet in South America also belongs to a low-cost airline, in this case, Chile’s “JetSMART”. Interestingly, both of these leading airlines in Asia and South America started operations as recently as 2017. Kenyan low-cost airline “Jambojet” leads Africa’s list with an average aircraft age of 4,3 years.

Canadian regional airline “WestJet Encore” and French Polynesia’s “Air Tahiti” are two airlines that reached the top place in their regions’ youngest fleet ranking in both 2017 and 2019. “WestJet Encore” was the airline with the youngest fleet in North America in 2017 with 40 aircraft and an average age of 2,2 years. In 2019, the fleet had aged to 3,9 years on average, but it was good enough to keep its position in the region. The “Air Tahiti” fleet is now slightly younger than it was two years ago (around four years on average), and this fact guaranteed them the number one position in Oceania.

“This year, we also looked at the youngest fleets for larger airlines separately, because fleet renewal for these airlines is more complex and requires more capital than for small start-ups,” says Thomas Jaeger. “In the category of airlines with 50 aircraft or more, we see Asian low-cost airlines dominating the list. The list of the youngest fleet with 100 aircraft or more, is led by Russian national carrier Aeroflot”.

 The youngest fleets worldwide: 

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
Norwegian Air Sweden 0,74 Sweden 5
Wizz Air UK 0,95 UK 10
Norwegian UK 1,04 UK 13
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Ireland 1,30 Ireland 9
Flyadeal 1,34 Saudi Arabia 11

 The youngest fleets in Africa: 

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
Jambojet 4,31 Kenya 5
Royal Air Maroc Express 6,03 Morocco 6
Air Austral 6,05 Reunion 8
Ethiopian Airlines 6,11 Ethiopia 104
RwandAir 6,17 Rwanda 12

 The youngest fleets in Asia: 

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
flyadeal 1,34 Saudi Arabia 11
JTA – Japan Transocean Air 1,70 Japan 12
Air Travel 2,46 China 9
Qazaq Air 2,57 Kazakhstan 5
Kunming Airlines 2,68 China 26

 The youngest fleets in Europe: 

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
Norwegian Air Sweden 0,74 Sweden 5
Wizz Air UK 0,95 UK 10
Norwegian UK 1,04 UK 13
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Ireland 1,30 Ireland 9
Malta Air 1,79 Malta 11

The youngest fleets in North America:

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
WestJet Encore 3,85 Canada 47
Frontier Airlines 3,90 USA 90
Swoop 3,94 Canada 7
VivaAerobus 3,96 Mexico 34
Volaris 4,61 Mexico 75

The youngest fleets in Oceania:

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
Air Tahiti 4,03 French Polynesia 10
Mount Cook Airline 6,93 New Zealand 29
Air New Zealand 7,12 New Zealand 65
Virgin Australia International 7,34 Australia 20
Air Tahiti Nui 7,57 French Polynesia 5

The youngest fleets in South America:

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
JetSMART 1,66 Chile 8
Viva Air Colombia 4,36 Colombia 14
LATAM Express 4,73 Chile 13
LATAM Airlines 5,85 Chile 46
Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras 5,99 Brazil 137

The youngest worldwide among large airlines (50 aircraft or more):

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
VietJetAir 3,24 Vietnam 66
GoAir 3,42 India 51
Batik Air 3,49 Indonesia 58
Frontier Airlines 3,90 USA 90
Norwegian Air International 4,32 Ireland 67

The youngest worldwide among extra-large airlines (100 aircraft or more):

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
Aeroflot 4,70 Russia 250
Hainan Airlines 5,06 China 237
Saudia 5,13 Saudi Arabia 155
Wizz Air 5,43 Hungary 104
Sichuan Airlines 5,65 China 155

ch-aviation included only commercial carriers with five or more aircraft with 30-plus seats. Data from “ch-aviation fleets advanced” as of August 2019.