Does UPS Have Planes? (Airlines, How It Works + More)

With UPS shipping services making promises like overnight delivery to anywhere in the country, it’s natural to wonder what resources are used to deliver (pun intended) on such a huge task!

So, does UPS have planes to help with speedy deliveries? If you’d like to find out, keep reading this article to see what I discovered!

Does UPS Have Planes In 2024?

UPS does have planes, and keeps a fleet of about 300 planes for dedicated UPS use, chartering around 200 more as needed in 2024. All UPS-owned planes belong to the UPS subsidiary, UPS Airlines, which used to carry passengers from 1996-2001 before ceasing its passenger plane program. UPS Airlines operate similarly to passenger flights with some minor exceptions.

There’s so much more to understand about UPS Airlines and its interesting history in the skies, so read on to learn more and find out how UPS Airlines affects your shipping needs!

Do UPS Planes Carry Passengers?

In the late 90s, having a dedicated fleet of planes for shipping reasons was a new and expensive approach to the industry.

Because of this, UPS management came up with the Asset Utilization Experiment.

This centered on the idea of using company cargo planes that typically sat idle on the weekends to charter passengers on the weekends.

While management thought the idea would be a hit, they needed to resolve some issues before they could actually monetize the idea.

Most of these issues came from the fact that these planes were cargo planes.

They had no bathrooms, seats, galleys, or overhead bins, and weren’t outfitted with Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) as they weren’t required on cargo planes in the 90s.

UPS rose to this challenge, creating a system that turned its freighters into comfortable passenger jets in under four hours on Friday morning, while being able to be turned back into freighters on Monday night.

While UPS Airlines chartered passengers with great success, it stopped the program in September of 2001, with the company’s Flight Operations Supervisor Dave Parker citing:

“Although profitable, the passenger program proved to be less profitable than flying packages… Company aircraft would be better utilized in our core business of delivering packages.”

If you’d like to read more about this fascinating program and see some in-depth material on how the program operated as well as it’s benefits and challenges, you can check out this article.

What Is the Airline UPS Uses for Planes?

What Is the Airline UPS Uses for Planes?

All planes permanently belonging to the UPS fleet are owned by the wholly-owned UPS subsidiary, UPS Airlines.

UPS Airlines operates an all-jet fleet, which means the airline doesn’t own any turboprop, short-haul aircrafts.

As the need for these types of aircraft arise, UPS Airlines has been known to charter planes from companies such as Air Cargo Carriers and Ameriflight.

UPS Airlines was launched in 1988, and is now the second-largest cargo airline in the world, flying to 815 destinations worldwide.

UPS Airlines is also the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747-8F, and is the world’s second-largest operator of the Boeing 757 and 767, Airbus A300, and McDonnell Douglas MD-11F.

How Many Aircrafts Does UPS’ Fleet Have?

UPS Airlines currently keeps a fleet of 288 functioning planes and 82 historic planes, for a fleet total of 372 aircraft.

The make-up of the 288 functioning planes in the UPS Airlines fleet looks something like this:

  • 80 Boeing 767s
  • 75 Boeing 757s
  • 52 Airbus A300s
  • 42 McDonnell Douglas MD-11s
  • 39 Boeing 747s

If you’re interested in reading more about the UPS Airlines fleet matrix, you can check out this detailed site.

In addition to the 288 planes owned by UPS Airlines that are regularly used to ship cargo, UPS also charters turboprop, short-haul aircrafts as necessary from companies such as Air Cargo Carriers and Ameriflight.

With UPS Airlines-owned aircraft and chartered aircraft, UPS uses more than 500 planes to transport packages around the world!

All UPS planes meet the strictest noise-reduction standards, and UPS was the first major airline in North America to become 100% compliant with new noise-reduction standards.

All of the planes owned and chartered by UPS differ slightly, in terms of compartment loading capacity, and features such as cargo door dimensions between models.

How Does UPS Airlines Work?

While UPS Airlines may not carry passengers on the weekends anymore, it still operates very similarly to the way recreational airlines such as Delta or Southwest operate.

UPS Airlines uses the hub and spoke model of operation, which should be familiar to everyone who’s taken flights before, even if you don’t recognize the name.

The hub and spoke model is a method of transport optimization, in which traffic planners organize routes as a series of “spokes” that connect various locations to a central “hub”.

The primary UPS hub is known as UPS Worldport, which is a 5,200,000 square foot facility located at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.

UPS also has several secondary hubs in the United States, such as Dallas/Fort Worth International and Miami International airports, and international hubs in China, Hong Kong, and Germany.

Other similarities between UPS Airlines’ operating systems and passenger airlines are its pilots and crews.

Despite the fact that UPS no longer charters passengers, all pilots and crew members are qualified to fly on passenger planes or cargo planes.

UPS pilots are also represented by the Independent Pilot Association, which is an organization under the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA), which represents pilots for passenger and cargo planes alike.

To find out more, you can also read our posts on how fast is UPS Ground, if UPS delivers at night, and if UPS delivers on Sundays.


UPS does have planes it uses for transporting goods, with 288 planes being privately owned by UPS under UPS Airlines, and around 200 more being chartered from companies such as Air Cargo Carriers and Ameriflight as necessary.

UPS Airlines chartered passengers on the weekends from 1996 to 2001, before stopping the program to focus on shipping more cargo.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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