The age of an airplane is more than just the time elapsed since it left the factory. Airframe cycles, engine hours, and “green” time left on life limited parts are all aspects of an airplane’s age. Understanding how an airplane ages, and the phases it goes through from first flight to final flight, makes the question of buying used aircraft or new ones much easier to answer.
Consider these numbers. In North America, traditional full-cost carriers have average fleet ages of over 14 years, while China’s average fleet age is only 6.4 years. Asian and Middle Eastern carriers tend to have younger fleets while European and North American airlines are older. For example, Delta has the most mature U.S. fleet with an average airplane age of 17 years, followed by Air Canada and United Airlines at both just over 14 years. The point is this: Everyone is buying and flying used airplanes. That said, let’s examine several benefits of buying used commercial aircraft.
It is a simple fact that the acquisition cost of a used airplane is significantly less than a brand new one. Since the bottom line is a critical factor in airline decision making, it makes sense to look hard at purchasing used aircraft versus new ones.
If you order a Boeing 737 today, it will not be delivered until the mid 2020s. With OEM production slots easily filled for the next five to seven years, airlines that wish to expand quickly will find a more ready supply of used commercial aircraft to meet their needs. As many late model aircraft come off of their first leases, they become available for new leases or outright purchase. These aircraft still have a lot of flight time left in their airframe, engines, and life limited parts, making them prime candidates for fleet expansions or fleet upgrades.
Although new aircraft are configured at the factory exactly the way an airline wants them (or can afford them), the extensive aftermarket of refurbishment products and programs enables buyers of used commercial aircraft to upgrade or update them to like-new condition. With the right MRO partner—like AerSale®—engines, interiors, and almost everything in-between can be overhauled, reset to zero time, repaired, or replaced. When you consider the lower purchase price of a used airplane, there can be a substantial savings by simply upgrading it versus getting the same equipment on a new airplane.
New airplanes sometimes need a few cycles before all of the minor glitches are identified and corrected. Well-maintained used aircraft have a track record of proven reliability, which can offset or reduce some maintenance costs. This also ensures that older aircraft can meet or even exceed the dispatch reliability of factory-fresh ones.
One disadvantage of used commercial aircraft is their reduced fuel efficiency when compared to the newest models available. This often drives an airline’s decision to purchase new aircraft instead of used ones. However, because fuel prices are still reasonably low, this is not necessarily a reason to avoid buying used airplanes. In fact, the money saved by buying or leasing used airplanes can more than offset higher fuel and operating costs.
Clearly there are benefits to buying used aircraft. Now, where will you buy yours? The answer is AerSale.
AerSale Aircraft Sales
AerSale provides mid-life commercial aircraft for sale to passenger airlines, cargo carriers, government entities, and leasing companies worldwide. To fit your fleet-specific needs today and into the future, AerSale specializes in Boeing and Airbus narrow and wide-body aircraft in passenger and freighter configurations. We focus on long-term client relationships and provide the comprehensive technical expertise and unmatched customer support you need to source, purchase, or remarket appropriate aircraft for your operation.
To ensure each aircraft meets both buyer and seller expectations, customers leverage AerSale's vertically integrated in-house MRO capabilities for maintenance, modifications, reconfigurations, upgrades, and conversions. Our financial strength and depth of expertise make it easy for customers to optimize their fleet growth and retirement needs.
Our experienced aircraft trading team understands that no two aircraft sales transactions are the same. Each transaction requires flexibility and responsive service to develop a comprehensive and creative solution unique to each operation. AerSale customers rely on expert guidance, personalized service, and meticulous follow-through across each step of every transaction.
A global aviation leader, AerSale specializes in the sale, lease, and exchange of used aircraft, engines, and components, in addition to providing a broad range of integrated maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services and engineering services for commercial aircraft and components. AerSale also offers asset management services to owners of end-of-life aircraft and engine portfolios. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, AerSale maintains offices and operations in the United States, Europe, and Asia.