Why do some cargo airlines operate older aircraft?

Hey everyone!

I was thinking this fine morning and the question came to me:

“Who do some cargo airlines operate older aircraft?”

I know the cargo 717 and 727 are very rare, and FEDEX operates the DC-8 and DC-10.

If these aircraft are so old, and parts are hard to find, why are they still operating?

Is it because the airline doesn’t have money for newer planes?

Is it because that there are so many in their fleet that they cannot rid all of them?




I don’t think there is a cargo 717. Also I think it is just because there cheap and people would worry about being on an old plane but cargo of course is unaware of its soundings.


It’s definitely not because airlines don’t have money. UPS for example just bought 14 more 747-8F for their fleet.

Airlines may stick to a certain type of plane for a while because of the crew training involved. Training the ground crew and the pilots takes a lot of time and money.


FedEx doesn’t operate DC-8’s.

The 717 is a fairly new plane. Also there aren’t cargo 717’s.


He probably means DC-9. I know Kalitta operates them.


FedEx doesn’t operate DC-9’s so yeah… (Kalitta’s livery is really nice)

Answering one of the questions, cargo airlines can afford to buy new planes.

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Probably because most of their aircraft are at least second hand, used airplanes. For that reason, they tend to be old.

But I don’t think it’s so common for that to be the case. FedEx operates 767s and 777s. UPS operates 747s and 767s, and most flag carriers operate 777s, 767s or 747s as their cargo aircraft.

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Tends to be old passenger aircraft converted for freight use

FedEx still uses MD-11, MD-10, 767, 757, A310 (might all be gone) and A300.

UPS still uses the MD-11, 744, 767, 757 and A300

Even the larger companies still use older aircraft. I’m not an insider for either but it feel it’s kinda like a “if it still works why not use it?” Situation.

And yes, they are updating their fleets, but if a plane is still making profit, why kill it off?

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I don’t think the 767 or 747 are old aircraft. I assume that when we talk about old aircraft, we mean 757, A300, DC-10, etc.

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Buy a used plane at a discount, scrap the fancy interior so you dont have to maintain it. Profit.

The same model is used elsewhere with cars/trucks. I would rather buy a used airplane than a car. At least with the plane you hopefully have more detailed service records.


It all depends.

UPS 744 N575UP is only 10 years old, while UPS 744 N581UP is 25 years old.

FedEx 767 N148FE is only half a year old, while UPS 767 N302UP is 22 and a half years old.

So basically it’s a toss up, there’s a few that are brand new, but there’s others that are starting to show their age.

But the latter three are definitely old aircraft.


Yeah but you need a landing permission for the next airport or a own Runway and hangar or a airport. :3

But yeah I would buy too a used plane.

Yes that is one difference between planes and cars.

That‘s true! Plane is cooler but rare to fly if you don‘t work for an or own an Airline.

A lot of it comes down to utilization. During the day, most passenger planes sit around for about 1-2 hours in between flights, and are flying most of the time. The game is very different for cargo aircraft, they sit around for hours, which means less flight, so less cycles, so less wear, which extends life, which amounts to older planes.

Another reason is cargo airlines doesn’t care passenger comfort. There is no need to upkeep he latest and greatest planes to try and win clients. Boxes don’t really have an opinion about if it’s a new LED interior or not.


One sentence: no one wants to fly them

It is not only cheap to buy but also passengers often feel not happy about flying on an older aircraft, but when your passengers are mail and amazon boxes comfort doesn’t really matter and there is no point getting newer planes because they do their jobs just fine, hope this helps.

Remember these cargo airlines haven’t bought these aircraft they have them on lease it costs a fortune to buy planes brand new