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  • Writer's picturePaul Saupe

British Airways Case Study, The Power of Aircraft Activity

Updated: Apr 16

A regular update where our in house team of aviation experts and ISTAT certified appraisers use our data to analyse values, market movements, and notable aviation news.


This week, our Data Analyst, Paul Saupe, uses AviationValues’ Activity data and highlights how data can provide insight into an aircraft's or fleet utilisation, using British Airways fleet as a case study.


Our extensive database and Activity data tracks over 35,000 live commercial passenger narrowbody and widebody aircraft. Using our data we delve into the British Airways fleet to showcase how powerful our Aircraft Activity data is, and how you can analyse airline fleets.


British Airways has a fleet of 264 aircraft, which our Automated Valuation Model (AVM) model gives a fleet Market Value of 9.73 USD bn. BA’s fleet is almost evenly split between narrowbody and widebody aircraft. They have a fleet of 138 narrowbody with a Market Value of 2.44 USD bn and 126 widebody aircraft with a Market Value of 7.29 USD bn.

Flight Ratios

Using the British Airways fleet accumulated flight hours and cycles between 2019 and 2024 YTD, we look at the flight hours to cycles ratio of the BA narrowbody fleet. The below highlights how the different airframe types have performed year after year.

From the above, we see that smaller aircraft cover shorter routes. The new generation aircraft tend to be deployed on longer flight routes, where their fuel efficiency translates into greater cost savings.  An interesting exception to this appears to be the A321ceo: from no flights in 2021, it has rebounded to operate, on average, longer hours per flight in 2024 than the A321neo. This could be down to several operational considerations but is certainly something to watch.

Delving into British Airways widebody fleet, the below shows how their use of aircraft has changed over recent years. London Heathrow’s geographic position means that most of British Airways’ long haul routes are less than 12 hours. Key markets over the North Atlantic are well within this flight time, and the most heavily served route to New York JFK is on average just 7.5 hours.


This translates to an average widebody utilisation pattern in the chart below. While most of British Airways’ widebody types operate stage lengths of roughly 9 to 10 hours on average, the Boeing 787-10 and 777-200ER fly on average 6 to 7 hours per flight. The 787-10 has been most heavily deployed on East Coast US and Middle East routes, whereas the 777-200ER is strongly focused on London – New York services. The 787-9 currently operates the longest sector, between London and Santiago (Chile).

Aircraft Flight Share YOY

Using our Activity data we analyse how British Airways uses its fleet and which of its narrowbody aircraft are the workhorses. The below illustrates that the A320ceo has been the driving force over the last 5 years, by performing over 40% of BA’s flights year on year. We expect this will change in the coming years as more of the new generation aircraft are delivered and put into service.

On the widebody side, BA’s most dominant aircraft is the 777-200ER, which since Covid-19 has consistently been operating a 39% share of BA’s widebody flights. The A350-1000 has been increasing its share of flights since the pandemic and so far this year sits behind the 777-200ER with a 13% share of flights.

Fleet Hours and Cycles Analysis

Analysing British Airways narrowbody fleets hours and cycles shows the effect Covid-19 had on the airline, with flight numbers down by 65% compared to 2019 pre pandemic and flight hours also down by 63%. However, since the pandemic the recovery has been impressive with flight numbers in 2023 almost back to that of 2019 with only 8% fewer flights, that’s said flight hours were up 6% in 2023 compared to 2019.

British Airways widebody aircraft were not hit quite as hard as the narrowbodies during Covid-19 with flight numbers reducing by 47% in 2020, and flight hours reduced by 46%. However, since the pandemic we have seen the widebodies recover pretty well, with BA’s 2023 widebody activity outperforming 2019 with an increase of 12% in terms of flight numbers and flight hours increasing by 18%, That said it will be interesting to see if 2024 continues on the same path as 2023.


Delving into British Airways' top 5 routes flown by their narrowbody fleet in 2023, The below shows flight paths between London Heathrow and Edinburgh Airport, which were the most frequent paths. Followed by London Heathrow to Glasgow International Airport. The other 3 making up the top 5 were very closely matched with flights between London Heathrow, Geneva Airport, Amsterdam Airport, and Barcelona International Airport.

Looking at the top 5 Routes in 2023 for their widebody aircraft shows that London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport IATA Pair is the standout with over double the amount of flights flown compared to the other four flight paths.  The others remain very close in terms of flights flown with Heathrow to Los Angeles International Airport, followed by Logan International Airport (Boston), Dubai International Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport. Overall, the importance of the New York area market to British Airways is clear. 


Being able to closely monitor your assets and how they are being used can help you manage and streamline, to ensure getting the most out of your fleet or portfolio.


Our Aircraft Activity product is a tool that helps the management of your fleet or assets that support your operational performance, as well as allowing lending, investing, and commercial and operational endeavours.


It provides users instant access to an always up to date picture of what the aircraft is doing in an easy to use format.


Used as a standalone information source or in conjunction with our Base Values, Market Values, Forecast Values, Fleet, and Deals databases, our daily updated Activity analytics offer unparalleled insight to support better decisions.


Data as of April 2024

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to provide general information and not to provide advice or guidance in relation to particular circumstances. Readers should not make decisions in reliance on any statement or opinion contained in this blog.

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