Forty-four per cent of the commercial aircraft in use in Bulgaria are 20 years old or more, according to statistics published on December 6 by European Union statistics agency Eurostat.
However, this is not the highest figure in the EU. Across the EU member states, more than half the aircraft fleet was aged 20 or more in Sweden (55 per cent), Lithuania (52 per cent) and Croatia (50 per cent).
In contrast, operators in Finland had no aircraft aged 20 years or over, while this share was less than 10 per cent in Luxembourg (three per cent), the Czech Republic (six per cent), Ireland and Austria (both seven per cent) as well as the Netherlands (slightly below 10 per cent).
A significant share of the fleet was made up of recent aircraft (aged less than five years) in Hungary (49 per cent) and Malta (42 per cent). The next in the ranking were Luxembourg (31 per cent), Finland (30 per cent), Ireland and Spain (both 27 per cent), the Netherlands (25 per cent) and the United Kingdom (23 per cent).
In contrast, operators in Croatia and Cyprus had no aircraft that were less than five years old. In a further nine EU member states, fewer than 10 per cent of the aircraft fleet were made up of aircraft less than five years old: Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia (each four per cent), Slovenia (five per cent), Romania (six per cent), the Czech Republic, Estonia and Italy (each seven per cent) as well as Greece (little below 10 per cent).
In 2017, air transport operators in the EU ran a total of 6711 aircraft, used for passengers or freight. This number excludes piston planes, helicopters and aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 2600 kg.
From the total EU aircraft fleet, about a fifth (21 per cent) of the aircraft were aged less than five years. Almost one third of the aircraft (27 per cent) were five to nine years old and 19 per cent were 10 to 14 years old. The remaining third of the aircraft (34 per cent) were 15 to 19 years old (17 per cent) or 20 years or over (17 per cent).
In 2017, the United Kingdom was the leading aircraft operator in the EU, running more than 1312 aircraft. In other words, UK-based operators accounted for almost one in every five EU aircraft (20 per cent). After this came Germany with 1100 aircraft (16 per cent of the EU aircraft fleet), France (571 aircraft, nine per cent), Ireland (569 aircraft, eight per cent) and Spain (509 aircraft, almost eight per cent).