How old is the EU's commercial aircraft fleet?


© Jaruek Chairak /

Air transport operators in the European Union (EU) had in total over 6 500 aircraft, used for passengers or freight, in 2015. These excluded piston planes, helicopters and aircrafts with maximum take-off weight less than 2 600 kg.

From the total EU aircraft fleet, around a fifth (21%) of the aircraft were aged less than 5 years, while 17% were 20 years old or more. Almost a third of the aircraft (30%) were 5 to 9 years old, 17% were 10 to 14 years old and 15% were 15 to 19 years old.

This news item marks International Civil Aviation Day (7 December).


1 in 5 EU aircraft operated in the United Kingdom

In 2015, the United Kingdom was the leading aircraft operator in the EU, running more than 1 250 aircraft. In other words, UK-based operators accounted for almost one in every five EU aircraft (19%). The top five was completed by Germany with over 1 100 aircraft (17% of the EU aircraft fleet), France (565 aircraft, 9%), Spain (485 aircraft, 7%) and Ireland (around 460 aircraft, 7%).

EU commercial aircraft fleet by operator country

The source dataset can be found here.


Largest share of old aircraft operated in Croatia and Sweden, lowest in Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland

Across the EU Member States, over half the aircraft was aged 20 years or over in Croatia (61%), Sweden (60%), Bulgaria and Lithuania (55%), Slovakia (52%) as well as in Cyprus. Aircraft aged 20 years or more also made up more than a third of the fleet in Estonia (43%), Romania (39%) and Denmark (37%). At the opposite end of the scale, less than 10% of the aircraft fleet was aged 20 years or over in Finland (2%), Luxembourg (6%) and Ireland (7%).

Conversely, a significant share of the fleet was made up of recent aircraft (aged less than 5 years) in Hungary (44%), Malta (42%) and Luxembourg (31%), ahead of Poland (26%), Germany and Ireland (both 25%), the Netherlands (23%), the United Kingdom (22%) and Spain (21%). In contrast, operators in Croatia and Cyprus had no aircraft less than 5 years old, and in Lithuania (4%), Sweden (6%), Romania (7%), Greece and Latvia (both 8%) fewer than 10% of the aircraft fleet were made up of aircraft less than 5 years old.

Commercial aircraft aged 20 or over operated in EU Member States

The source dataset can be found here.