Which aircraft type flies the most annual passenger-miles?

I understand there are over 4,000 737s in service. However, there are over 1,300 777s in service.

These each carry more passengers, and presumably spend more time in cruise, where miles are clocked up fastest. Is it possible the 777 flies the most annual passenger-miles?


2 Answers 2


Some heavies (747, 777, A380) fly short- to medium-haul in Asia and the Middle East. You could say they're stealing jobs from 737's and A320's.

Anyway, what I could find was for the US only.

Checking the Revenue Passenger Miles Total by Aircraft Type for 2016 on transtats.bts.gov we find—

  • All 737 variants: 153.2 billion
  • All 777 variants: 38.3 billion


Boeing 737-100/200         18,374,213
Boeing 737-200C                58,536
Boeing 737-300          6,609,070,471
Boeing 737-300LR              574,860
Boeing 737-400          1,484,593,783
Boeing 737-500            324,819,083
Boeing 737-700         44,485,736,725
Boeing 737-800         69,014,076,197
Boeing 737-900         18,203,949,655
Boeing 737-900ER       13,058,102,746
Boeing 777-200-        32,808,990,997
Boeing 777-300-         5,466,846,693

Top types with at least 10 billion pax miles:

Boeing 737-800                  69,014,076,197
Airbus Industrie A320-100/200   48,907,277,978
Boeing 737-700/700LR            44,485,736,725
Boeing 777-200ER/200LR/233LR    32,808,990,997
Airbus Industrie A321           28,492,821,887
Boeing 757-200                  26,182,350,221
Boeing 767-300/300ER            24,176,619,545
Airbus Industrie A319           22,087,734,671
Boeing 737-900                  18,203,949,655
DC9 Super 80/MD81/82/83/88      15,379,739,818
Boeing 737-900ER                13,058,102,746
Airbus Industrie A330-200       10,556,831,804

From this top list:

  • Single-aisle: 285.8 billion
  • Widebody: 67.5 billion

(Narrow- vs. widebody above is just in case you are wondering. Arbitrarily selecting top-x won't reveal much.)

Boeing's outlook for the future based on past- and current-trends sees the single-aisle market outgrowing the widebody.

Boeing outlook 1

Boeing outlook 2

I've tried to dig deeper, but it seems some 260 governments don't openly share those statistics, we'd need to hire an analyst firm for a worldwide view.


I'm going to attempt to partially self-answer my question in terms of seat-hours, using numbers from Boeing:

The post 'All in a day's work' tells us that in 2011 there were 'nearly 1,900 777 flights taking off every day' with an average flight length of six hours. So I make that 11,400 daily flying hours for 777s in 2011.

The Boeing 737 Facts fact sheet tells us there in 2013 there were on average 2,000 737s in the air at any given time. So I make that 24*2000= 48,000 daily flying hours for 737s in 2013.

If I make the fairly rough-and-ready estimate that a 737 has on average 150 seats, and a 777 330 seats, that gives us roughly 3.8 million daily seat-flying hours for a 777 in 2011, and roughly 7.2 million daily seat-flying hours for a 737.

I expect a 777 would spend more time in cruise, so the 777 flying hours would translate to more miles, but not enough to close the gap.


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