Saturday, January 16

2020: Top 10 biggest Airline in the World

Top Airlines in World

Ten years ago Delta was fresh off its merger with Northwest Airlines and was the undisputed largest airline in the world. Since that time United and Continental have merged, and American Airlines and US Airways have merged. Delta kept growing, and still sits close to the top.

There are many ways to measure ‘biggest’. There’s passengers carried, revenue, and number of planes. OAG looked at seats scheduled for the year, which is a measure of an airline’s flying capacity, to rank which airline is biggest. American Airlines sits at the top, but there’s a lot of interesting data here.

Airline Scheduled Seats 
American Airlines       265,043,191
Delta Air Lines       243,372,169
Southwest Airlines       210,911,808
United Airlines       199,598,329
Ryanair       151,419,618
China Southern       141,365,190
China Eastern       134,200,810
easyJet       105,786,369
Air China         93,627,708
Turkish Airlines         93,355,469

Did you realize that Southwest Airlines is the third biggest carrier in the world by seats scheduled? Now, a Southwest Airlines plane flies plenty of short flights a day. That means the plane’s seats count more than once, while an international airline flying Boeing 777s long distances may fly that plane only once per day. Under this measure a seat taking off from Los Angeles for Las Vegas is the same as a seat taking off from Los Angeles for Lima, Peru.

In fact a decade ago Southwest was the second largest. They’ve grown more than 35%, but slipped to third place. That’s because US Airways took over American, and because Delta kept growing.

What about that other mega merger, United and Continental? United Airlines today offers the same number of seat departures that the two airlines did a decade ago and that’s even two years into Scott Kirby’s growth strategy.

In the past decade Lufthansa and ANA have fallen off of the list. Turkish, easyJet, and China Eastern have joined. The only European carriers on the list are the largest of the low cost carriers (easyJet and Ryanair) and Turkish which serves more countries than any other airline.

Here’s a closer look at the 20 biggest airlines in the world:

10. Air China


Capacity: 90,531,776 seats.

Fleet size: 418 aircraft.

9. Turkish Airlines


Capacity: 93,109,025 seats.

Fleet size: 350 aircraft.

8. EasyJet


Capacity: 100,082,969 seats.

Fleet size: 317 aircraft.

7. China Eastern Airlines


Capacity: 122,917,175 seats.

Fleet size: 525 aircraft.

6. China Southern Airlines


Capacity: 131,972,745 seats.

Fleet size: 597 aircraft.

5. Ryanair


Capacity: 142,540,776 seats.

Fleet size: 439 aircraft.

4. United Airlines

United Airlines

Capacity: 193,981,547 seats.

Fleet size: 765 aircraft.

3. Southwest Airlines

Chris Parypa Photography/shutterstock

Capacity: 209,526,838 seats.

Fleet size: 749 aircraft.

2. Delta Air Lines


Capacity: 233,758,798 seats.

Fleet size: 879 aircraft.

1. American Airlines

American Airlines

Capacity: 256,928,663 seats.

Fleet size: 956 aircraft.

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