The year 2020 has undoubtedly, to put it mildly, shaken things up as far as airline fleets go. Carriers have retired some iconic quadjet aircraft, while most still bet on a return of demand for twin-engine long-haul capacity. As we patiently await the arrival of Boeing’s 777X in a couple of years, let’s take a look at which airlines operate the most of the classic Triple Seven.
Emirates has, by far, the largest Boeing 777 fleet in the world. While the airline’s website says that it operates 155 of the 777s, data from Planespotters.net, updated this very day, October 9th, states that there are 152. As three of the aircraft exited early this year, two in February and one in March, one could assume Emirates just hasn’t updated its site since the beginning of the year. To be fair, there have been more pressing matters at hand.
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Emirates took delivery of its first 777-200 in June 1996. It remained with the Gulf carrier until it was broken up at Tupelo Regional Airfield, Mississippi, in 2014. Today, Emirates retains 10 of the 777-200, 131 of the 777-300, and an additional 11 of the 777F freighter version. The latest arrival was A6-EQP, a 777-300ER which joined the fleet in December 2018. Altogether, the planes have an average age of 8.2 years.
In 2013, Emirates announced an astonishing order for 150 of the forthcoming 777X. Seven years, several production delays, and a decimated demand later, the airline is reportedly pushing to swap even more of the 777Xs for the smaller 787s, as it had already done for 24 of the former in November 2019.
The second-largest fleet of 777s is not, as one might have expected, found in a neighboring Gulf nation, but rather westwards, across the Atlantic. United Airlines, under normal circumstances, operates a fleet of 74 Boeing 777-200s, and 22 of the 777-300ERs. At the moment, 49 of the -200s are listed as parked, most in various airports across the USA.
United received its first 777-200 in May 1995. It has since exited the fleet, went to work for Air India, and later came back to North America and is still in service with WFBN Wells Fargo Bank Northwest. The latest 777-300ER to join United had the unfortunate timing to be delivered on March 21st, exactly one week after Trump imposed a travel ban from Europe to the US.
United is yet to order any of the 777X. With long-haul demand predicted to remain stunted for the next few years, it is unlikely any new orders for the behemoth plane will trickle in soon.
Our search for third place in the list of 777 operators sees us pivot back to the Middle East. Qatar Airways has 78 in its fleet of 777s, which is also the youngest in this list with an average age of 6.7 years at the time of writing.
Nine of these are 777-200s, six of which are currently listed as parked, and 48 are 777-300ERs, of which only one is inactive at the moment. Qatar also operates 21 of the 777F freighter version through its cargo division.
Qatar first took delivery of a 777-200 in February 2009. It remains with the airline to this date, although it is currently stored due to the global health crisis. While the carrier received six of the 777F in 2019, the last time a 777-300ER joined the Doha family was in September 2018.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has recently confirmed that his airline will be taking all of the 60 777Xs it has on order. Deliveries will begin in 2022 and stretch through 2029. While one would think that this would mean Qatar would surpass United and claim second place in number of Triple Sevens, this is not so. Qatar means for the new additions to gradually replace its existing 777 fleet, despite its young age.
Air France comes in not far behind Qatar, with 70 of the 777s in its fleet. Although, in terms of passenger planes, it is actually ahead. The French flag-carrier operates a fleet of 25 777-200s, a little over half of which are currently parked, and 43 777-300ERs, all but ten of which are listed as active. It also has two 777Fs for cargo-only operations. This means that in total, Air France has 68 passenger 777s, whereas Qatar has 57.
The airline, whose 777 fleet has an average age of 15 years, took delivery of its first 777-200 in 1998, and the first 777-300ER in 2004. The last one to arrive did so in 2016. All but one of Air France’s 777s are still with the airline. The only one to leave is a 777F that is currently ferrying cargo for FedEx.
As opposed to Qatar, Air France remains committed to its older 777s. At the beginning of the year, the airline rolled out a new cabin for its long-haul fleet, including its Triple Sevens.
American Airlines has 68 777s in its fleet. Just like Air France’s, they have an average age of 15 years. American is the only carrier in the top five with more of the 777-200s than the later 777-300ER; 47 vs. 20. The first of the former arrived in 1999, whereas the latest of the -300s joined the fleet in 2016. About half of the 777-200s are currently stored in the US, most of them in Mobile, Alabama. Meanwhile, only one of the 777-300ERs is listed as inactive.
American Airlines, which has the largest fleet of aircraft globally, has also held on to all of its Triple Seven aircraft. Although, with so much recalibrating of fleets going on in the face of a prolonged crisis, the carrier could use some of its expected 787s to replace them.
Place five to ten
Cathay Pacific has 66, all of which are 777-300ERs. British Airways and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have 56 each, while Korean Air comes in right behind with 55. Rounding out the top ten is not a passenger airline at all, but rather FedEx, with its 45 777Fs. However, if we look solely at passenger aircraft, the tenth place is occupied by Turkish Airlines and its 41 strong 777 fleet.
Which airlines have you flown the 777 with? Let us know in the comments.