How COVID-19 Has Impacted Global Boeing 737/747 Fleets

The COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns pushed airlines into a hibernation phase. As they begin emerging, global fleet data reveals exactly what impact the pandemic has had on two of the world’s best-selling commercial aircraft, the Boeing 737 and iconic 747.

These two aircraft serve different functions, one is a medium range narrowbody, while the other is a long-range widebody. The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the pair in very different ways, as the statistics clearly show.

Lufthansa 748
Lufthansa is one of the only major carriers to order the passenger variant of the 747-8. Wikimedia Commons/Kiefer

According to aviation data firm Cirium, there are currently 7,678 Boeing 737s (of different variants) in airline fleets globally.

Of these, 5,357 are in service with carriers and 2,321 are in storage – including 375 MAX examples which remain grounded.

Broken down by variant, there are 36 737-200s in service and 24 in storage. Additionally, there are 507 737 Classics still flying while 320 are parked up. The most popular variant in use today is the 737 NG, of which 4,814 are in service and 1,602 in storage.

Latvian carrier airBaltic has four Boeing 737-300s in service, although all of them are parked because of the pandemic. Flickr Commons/Aero Icarus

By comparison, as of July 14 there are only 502 Boeing 747s in service, in storage or on order with airlines. Of this total, only 30 passenger variants are currently flying while 132 are in storage.

Thai 747
The 747-400 was the most popular variant of the widebody. Wikimedia Commons/Julian Herzog 

The freighter version of the iconic type is a different story – there are 308 examples in service and 24 in storage – while 15 are still on order with Boeing.

This means that the passenger variant accounts for only 9% of 747s currently in service and 85% of those in storage. On the other hand, the cargo version makes up 93% of 747s currently flying and only 15% of those parked up.

With the announcement on Friday (July 17) that British Airways has retired its 31-strong fleet of 747s with immediate effect, the number of the type in service globally, is now below 500.

BA 747
British Airways announced on Friday (July 17) that it is retiring its entire 747 fleet. British Airways

The worldwide 747 fleet in airline service peaked in July 1998 when 986 aircraft were actively being flown.