Which Major Airlines Operate All-Widebody Fleets In 2021?

Widebody aircraft play a key role in transporting large numbers of passengers, typically doing so on long-haul routes. Many airlines operate these twin-aisle jets alongside smaller narrowbody aircraft, but some take an all-widebody approach. Let’s take a look at which major airlines are presently operating fleets consisting entirely of twin-aisle aircraft.

Emirates, Airbus A380, August Schedule
Emirates is the world’s largest Airbus A380 operator. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Emirates

Dubai-based UAE flag carrier has an interesting history when it comes to its fleet. Some of the airline’s first planes were narrowbodies, including three Boeing 727 trijets. The airline also flew a Boeing 737 back in the 1980s. However, the picture today is rather different.

Data from ch-aviation.com shows that the entirety of Emirates’ non-VIP fleet consists of twin-aisle aircraft. The non-VIP detail is important, as the airline also operates a single private and fully customizable Airbus ACJ319. However, in terms of the UAE flag carrier’s mainline cargo and passenger aircraft, widebodies are a ubiquitous phenomenon.

Emirates’ most notable aircraft are arguably its double-decker Airbus A380 superjumbos, of which the Dubai-based airline is the world’s largest operator. As it stands, there are 119 of these juggernauts in its fleet, with a further three still to be delivered. They have an average age of 7.1 years old, although the COVID-19 pandemic means that just 30 are active.

Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EQE
Emirates also flies several different Boeing 777 variants. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Emirates also has a large fleet of Boeing 777 family aircraft. 10 of these (all active) are 777-200LRs, which have an average age of 13.3 years. Meanwhile, its 124 777-300ERs (121 are active) are 8.5 years old on average. The airline’s cargo division also consists entirely of widebodies, namely 11 777-200Fs. 10 are active, and their average age is 8.3 years.

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Virgin Atlantic

The UK’s Virgin Atlantic is another airline whose fleet consists solely of twin-aisle designs. Like Emirates, it has historically flown smaller aircraft, such as Airbus A320s on regional services branded as Virgin Atlantic Little Red. It also briefly operated a feeder service from Maastricht, Netherlands to its London Gatwick base using Vickers Viscount turboprops.

Today, data from ch-aviation shows that Virgin Atlantic’s all-widebody fleet is made up of both Airbus and Boeing designs. In terms of the UK planemaker, it flies 17 787-9 Dreamliners. All of these planes are active, and they have an average age of 5.6 years.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A350, The Booth
Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350s are its youngest aircraft. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

When it comes to Airbus designs, there is a little more variety in the Virgin Atlantic fleet. The carrier’s oldest planes from the European manufacturer are its three A330-200s. All of these aircraft, which have an average age of 20.3 years, are presently inactive. Meanwhile, the airline’s 10 A330-300s (six are active) are half as old, at 10 years on average.

The youngest aircraft at Virgin Atlantic are the carrier’s seven A350-1000s. These next-generation widebodies have an average age of just 2.3 years old. Virgin Atlantic is set to receive five more, along with 15 A330neos from the A330-900 production line.

Thai Airways

Over in Asia, Thailand is also home to an all-widebody fleet. This selection of twin-aisle jets belongs to its flag carrier, Thai Airways International (known in short as simply ‘THAI’). Like Emirates and Virgin Atlantic, THAI’s widebodies come from both Airbus and Boeing.

thai-airways-international-flights-getty
THAI’s only active widebodies are twinjets like the Boeing 777 family. Photo: Getty Images

In terms of active widebody designs at THAI, the most numerous of these is the Boeing 777-300ER. The airline has 14 of these twinjets in its fleet, of which eight are active. Their average age is 7.8 years old, and THAI has three more examples on order. It also has six 777-200ERs with an average age of 14.6 years old, although only one is currently active.

In terms of more modern Boeing aircraft, THAI has a single inactive four-year-old 787-9 in its fleet, as well as five 787-8s. These short-fuselage Dreamliners are 6.7 years old on average, and three are currently active. When it comes to modern Airbus designs, six of THAI’s 12 A350-900s are active at present. These twinjets have an average age of just 4.1 years old.

thai-airways-international-flights-getty
THAI has placed all of its remaining quadjets into storage. Photo: Getty Images

THAI’s stored widebodies

There are several widebody families whereby THAI has placed its entire contingent into storage. These include its six Airbus A380s, which are 8.9 years old on average. All 14 of its A330-300s are in the same situation. These twinjets have an average age of 10.7 years old.

Meanwhile, storage is also the current state of affairs for THAI’s last eight Boeing 747-400s. As with many airlines, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced THAI to right-size its fleet when it comes to larger aircraft. The large and aging 747 is a prime target for this procedure, with THAI’s examples clocking in at 22.4 years old on average.

Smaller all-widebody airlines

While Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, and THAI are some of the main examples of all-widebody carriers, several smaller airlines also fall under this category. One of these is Polynesia’s Air Tahiti Nui, which flies four Boeing 787-9s with an average age of 2.6 years old.

Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Getty
Air Tahiti Nui previously solely operated A340s, before replacing them with 787s. Photo: Getty Images

Elsewhere in the Francophone world, Paris Orly-based low-cost leisure operator French bee’s fleet consists entirely of four Airbus A350-900s. These are 3.6 years old on average. It also plans to add the larger -1000, which will seat up to 488 passengers!

French bee Airbus A350
French bee’s A350s have a high-density seating configuration. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Next door to France, Brussels Charleroi-based Air Belgium flies seven Airbus jets, all of which are widebodies. Four (all active) are A330-200Fs, which have an average age of 6.2 years. Meanwhile, its passenger-carrying A340-300s are somewhat older, at 14 years old on average. Air Belgium operates three of these quadjets, of which two are active.

Air Belgium, Airbus A330-900, A330neo
Air Belgium plans to replace two A340s with the A330neo. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

AirAsia X: an all-widebody airline for now

Finally, we come to Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X. Data from ch-aviation shows that this Kuala Lumpur-based airline’s 22-aircraft fleet consists entirely of Airbus A330-300s. These twinjets are 9.9 years old on average, although only two are currently active.

AirAsia X Airbus A330 Getty
Only two of AirAsia X’s 22 A330-300s are presently active. Photo: Getty Images

Going forward, AirAsia X also has an impressive 78 Airbus A330-900s on order. These ‘neo’ series aircraft will help to modernize the Malaysian LCC’s operations. However, it is also set to receive 30 A321XLRs, which will see its fleet lose its all-widebody status.

How many of these all-widebody airlines have you flown with? Do you have a particular favorite? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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