Most of the vehicle manufacturers provide exchange value for older models when buying a newer one. Like you can exchange your old BMW 3 Series for new 3 Series or upgrade to 5 Series and so on.

Is there any similar offering provided by aircraft manufacturers to update, something like upgrade 747's to 777's?

  • $\begingroup$ The difference is that individual auto trade-ins are motivated by buyer perceptions of status, style, &c. Airlines are more likely to be motivated by practical factors such as operating & maintenance costs, so would be less likely to trade, and the trade-ins would be worth less, as a percentage of new cost. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ Further, automobile trade-in is offered by the dealer in order to incentivize sales to people who have a running car. You won't get this if you're buying directly from the manufacturer. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon Carmakers actively participate in the used car trade: they sponsor leases to generate a stock of used cars, they have repurchase agreements with rental fleets, they have certified pre-owned programs which apply a factory warranty. What's also not comparable is that aircraft are sold under the razor blade model: a lot of the profits come from spares and support. An older airframe can produce more profits than a new one. The 737MAX groundings caused GE to increase profits, as it kept older engines in service and they didn't have to take the hit on new ones. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Nov 24, 2021 at 1:54

1 Answer 1


Manufacturers will do whatever it takes to score an order, so it's not uncommon for an OEM to take old aircraft on trade with a new order, especially if they are from the same maker. The OEM I worked for had a used aircraft sales division that was mainly used to unload trade-ins.

  • $\begingroup$ Many of your budget airlines are flying previously-leased (ie, used) aircraft around. 737's, 747's, airbus variants, etc. Leasing seems to be what many/most airlines do these days anyway, which gives them more flexibility to "trade up" to newer models as they become available. $\endgroup$
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 24, 2021 at 0:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SnakeDoc Even non-budget airlines frequently do that to some extent. Delta used to be particularly notorious for snapping up lightly or moderately-used aircraft that fit in well with their existing fleet when they were available at bargain prices. Their entire 717 fleet (which is the world's largest by a wide margin) came that way, for example, when Southwest bought AirTran, but wanted to maintain their 737-only strategy. Even the future Air Force One aircraft were acquired from Boeing at bargain prices as white tails (not technically used, but abandoned orders.) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Nov 24, 2021 at 5:23

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