U.S. Airlines May Be Left Behind in Updating Fleets

If the airlines don't start buying soon, many of their planes will be nearing 25 years old. But, production at Boeing and Airbus is largely sold out until 2011.

Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines continued to take new jets in the past few years and now have the youngest fleets about nine years old on average among the nation's major carriers.

Northwest Airlines, poised to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings in the next few months, kept receiving new planes during its reorganization.

Even so, Northwest has the oldest fleet in the U.S. 18 years old on average and needs to tackle replacing the 69 DC-9s it owns that are 35 years old, according to Fitch Ratings.

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