The airline industry is impacting our lives more and more everyday in various ways and air travel companies are becoming even more colossal business enterprises as time goes on. Among these huge companies, some are especially well known and large based on factors such as fleet size, revenue, passangers carried and number of countries served.
When it comes to the top largest airline companies in the world, a few names keep coming up such as American Airlines, British Airways, Air China, International Airlines Group, Turkish Airlines, Delta Air Airlines and easyJet. With the total worth of the global airline industry reaching $686 billion in 2020, it is not surprising to see that many of these companies are household names that drive millions of jobs worldwide and fly hundreds of millions of passangers each year.
Even though the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the global aviation industry and many other industries in general is undeniable, it is not so inconcievable to anticipate that the air travel industry is eventually going to return back to its former glory once the pandemic is dealt with. With this great challenge out of the way, we can expect to see the largest airline companies in the world get even larger than they already are.
Whether you are planning to work in the air travel field and want to see which companies are the most promising ones or simply you are an aviation enthusiast interested in reading about such impactful companies in the industry, knowing more about these businesses is definitely worth your time! So without further ado, let’s discover the biggest airlines in the world and learn about each of these companies in detail.
There are many ways to judge the size of an airline company like its fleet size and company revenue. In this list we are going to rank them by scheduled passenger-kilometers flown, since it is one of the most used metrics available.
1. American Airlines
With its headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, American Airlines Group Inc. was founded on the 9th of December, 2013 by the integration of AMR Corporation and US Airways Group. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) allowed both companies to operate under a single certificate on the 8th of April, 2015.
American Airlines is the largest airline company by its fleet size, brand value, passangers carried and scheduled passenger-kilometers flown. The company considered the second largest when measured by company revenue and the number of routes.
2. United Airlines
United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and it has commenced operations on the 28th of March, 1931, five years after its founding in 1926.
The airline company is the second largest when calculated by scheduled passenger-kilometers flown with 385 billion kilometers.
3. Delta Air Airlines
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Delta Air Airlines was founded on the 2nd of March, 1925. The company makes over 5,400 flights everyday and operates in 325 destinations in 52 countries.
By a scheduled passenger-kilometers flown value of 382 billion, Delta Air Airlines is the third largest airline in the world, following closely behind United Airlines.
4. Lufthansa Group
Lufthansa Group is made up of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines AG and Brussels Airlines. It is headquartered in Cologne, Germany and the group’s fleet size is 763 aircraft as of December 2019.
With 296 billion scheduled passenger-kilometers flown, the group is the fourth largest airlines in the world.
5. Emirates Airline
Emirates Airline is the flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates. The company has commenced operations on the 25th of October 1985 and its headquarters are located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Emirates Airline’s parent company is The Emirates Group which is an international aviation holding company headquartered near Dubai International Airport in United Arab Emirates.
With a fleet made up of 251 aircraft, Emirates Airline serves in 157 destinations and it is the 5th largest airline company by scheduled passenger-kilometers flown.
6. International Airlines Group
International Consolidated Airlines Group S.A, also known as IAG, is a multinational airline company made up of British Airways and Iberia, which are the flag carriers of the UK and Spain. IAG was founded on the 21st of January, 2011 when both companies became subsidiaries of International Airlines Group. Over time the group also purchased several other airlines such as British Midland International, Vueling Airlines, S.A. and Aer Lingus.
International Airlines Group’s headquarters are located in London and the airline company serves worldwide with its more than 60,000 employees.
7. China Southern Air
China Southern Airlines Company Limited was founded on the 1st of July, 1988 and became one of the three largest airlines of China along with Air China and China Eastern Airlines. The company is the largest airline in Asia when measured by fleet size, company revenue and the amount of passangers carried.
With a fleet of 625 aircraft China Southern Airlines operates in more than 200 destinations and it is the 7th largest airline company by scheduled passenger-kilometers flown.
8. Air France-KLM
Air France–KLM Group is a French-Dutch airline company which was founded on the 5th of May, 2004 and its headquarters are located at Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris.
The group is made up of Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and some other minority interests. Largest single shareholders of the company are the Governments of France and the Netherlands.
9. Air China
One among the biggest three airline companies of China, Air China is the flag carrier airline of People’s Republic of China and its headquarters are in the country’s capital city, Beijing. It has started its operations on the 1st of July 1988.
With a fleet size of over 400 aircraft, Air China serves in 201 destinations and it is the 9th largest airline company in the world.
10. China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited was founded on the 25th of June, 1988 with its headquarters in Shanghai. The company is one of the big three airline companies of China and has a fleet of 581 aircraft.
Serving in more than 240 destinations, China Eastern Airlines is the 10th biggest airline company in the world.
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