XJetflyer
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Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:20 pm

I was wondering who has the oldest fleet in the airline industry? I was thinking Delta. Which leads me to some other questions.

In my business we can get away with several years of using our vehicles before we must replace them. They can be in great shape and look great but our customers look down on older vehicles.

I was wondering if Airlines experience the same thing? I have flown on some old MD-80's and it really did not bother me. If you do not know much about planes you probably won't notice. How often do airlines refurbish their aircraft?

I would almost think that flying older aircraft would be cheaper overhead, except for the better fuel mileage from the newer aircraft.

I was just wondering about this. As a frequent flyer I find aircraft age interesting.
 
boeing773er
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:32 pm

To answer the first question about the oldest fleet in the industry it is currently G4 with an average fleet age of 20.4 years old. But if we are talking about legacy carriers, you are correct it is DL. But if you want to know outside of the US then, I will let someone to do some research on that. But I have a feeling it would be IR with an average fleet age of 25+ years old.

Quoting XJetflyer (Thread starter):
How often do airlines refurbish their aircraft?

For that question it depends on an airline and their situation. I know that DL has recently re-did all of their MD-80s/757/767/747 fleet to include personal displays, and wifi. They also expanded all of that to regional jets.
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roseflyer
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:40 pm

Profit depends on more than aircraft age. The two US airlines posting the strongest profit margins are Allegiant and Spirit. Allegiant has the oldest fleet in the US. Spirit has the second youngest (only behind Virgin America). Alaska is also reporting strong profits and is in the middle.

Allegiant can get by with a unique strategy of low utilization, low aircraft lease rates, low competition routes and low fares. Spirit is based on low fares and extremely low costs.

For the biggest airlines, fleet age matters, but it is one of many factors. Delta has the oldest fleet followed by American, and Southwest has the youngest followed by US Airways. The regional airlines like JetBlue, Airtran and Alaska have even younger fleets. In general the legacy airlines have the oldest fleets.
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seabosdca
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:47 pm

What people notice is the interior. Looking at DL's fleet, most consumers would see the 1975 DC-9s as "newer" than the pre-mod 1998 767-300ERs because the interiors look more modern. If a carrier lets its interiors get too far out of date, it will develop a reputation for "old planes."

Does that affect profits? Depends on the audience. The bulk of travelers are price-sensitive Y travelers. They will book anything if the price is $5 cheaper, and they will refuse to book anything if it's $5 more expensive. But a disproportionate share of the revenue comes from frequent and premium travelers, who can and will make decisions based on factors like the perceived age of the aircraft.

Thus you see an airline like Delta assiduously refurbishing aircraft that fly on premium sectors while doing the bare minimum for aircraft (such as the 5500 757s and the non-X PMDL 757s) that typically fly on sectors full of tourists.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:52 pm

Older fleets are often fully paid off, so an airline is not paying finance charges on them. However, they tend to have higher maintenance and fuel costs. Eventually, the capital savings are negated by the maintenance and fuel costs so we have AA, DL and UA all placing large replacement orders for new jets because they overall cost less to operate then they cost to finance.
 
lhcvg
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:14 pm

Quoting boeing773ER (Reply 1):
For that question it depends on an airline and their situation. I know that DL has recently re-did all of their MD-80s/757/767/747 fleet to include personal displays, and wifi. They also expanded all of that to regional jets.

This is another case where I bet the average joe has little to no idea how old the plane is - as long as the paint is reasonably good, and the interior is kept nice (or refurbished).
 
CanadianNorth
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:21 pm

The turboprop fleet here is 40+ years old, still profitably working just fine. As long as you keep the cowlings shiny and the interior looking fresh, people don't seem to notice. I've flown around on Dash-8s down south that are decades newer, but were covered in dirt and oil on the exterior and had worn, ratty interiors that overall made the aircrafft feel like it wasn't a week newer than the decades older Hawker I was on the week before.
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XJetflyer
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RE: Age Of Fleet And Profits

Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:35 am

I wonder if people knew how old some of the planes were they were flying on, would they change their minds about who they fly with?

I have to say the DL MD-80 I flew on a while back looked decent. I scared a girl next to me when she heard a rattle. I looked at her and said we are on a MD-80, these birds may be old but are pretty safe. Her eyes got wide and she freaked out.

I will just say this plane is safe from now on.

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