10 of the Largest Airlines in the World

Being able to find a great airline is something that most people strive for each time that they fly. There are so many unexpecteds when you are flying that there are certainly things that each person should consider. One of the things that has been notable in the past ten years is that the steady flow of air travel has continued to grow. There are a few airlines who have put themselves in the position to be able to consider themselves the top airlines from around the globe. These are the top choices of many passengers and the airlines that you will want to familiarize yourself with if you have dreams or plans to travel the world.

Of course, there are many different ways in which you could consider the top airlines. Some choose to look at the number of flights that each airline offers or the number of planes that are a part of their fleet. However, today we are looking at the largest airlines in the world by the number of passengers that they carried throughout the world. In 2018, the airline industry brought in almost $600 billion. Even with a recession affecting many parts of the world, airlines reported an 8% increase in profits, which means that more people were actually traveling than before (Tracy).

American Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 198.7 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Fort Worth, Texas, United States of America United States Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 11

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, New York, U.S.A.
  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
  • O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.
  • Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
  • Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
  • Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
  • Luis Munoz Marin International, Puerto Rico

SIZE OF FLEET: 956 aircrafts

WEBSITE: Aa.com

American Airlines

While American Airlines is already the most traveled on airlines, there is no reason to assume that they will not be dominating airspace for years to come. In fact, they have current plans to increase their airfleet by more than 100 aircrafts, which means that they will be offering more than their current 6,500 annual flights around the globe (Misachi). American Airlines is today part of the American Airlines Group which is a result of American Airlines merging with U.S. Airways. The company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and it almost ruined them, but instead they have continued to rise from their past. Fortune Magazine even ranked the company as one of their best turnarounds in 2016 (Tracy).

Delta Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 183.7 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America United States Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 14

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Hatsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, New York, U.S.A.
  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
  • Seattle - Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
  • Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusettes, U.S.A.
  • LaGuardia Airport, New York, New York, U.S.A.
  • Cinncinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Cinncinatti, Ohio, U.S.A.
  • Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan
  • Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France
  • Memphis International Airport, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

SIZE OF FLEET: 885 (687 owned/198 leased)

WEBSITE: Delta.com

Delta

Delta is one of the largest airlines in the world carrying passengers to six continents and allowing for many of their passengers to see the world. Their headquarters is located in Hatsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport which is the busiest airport in the United States (Misachi). Delta Airlines is the oldest airline that is still operating in the United States. This is something to remember because there is a reason that the company has been able to maintain their customer base for so long.The company continues to rank in Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies. In addition, the company has ranked in a number of different surveys and polls as being a top choice for many travelers (Tracy).

Southwest Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 151.8 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Dallas, Texas, United States of America United States Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 13

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Dallas Love Field, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
  • Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
  • Baltimore - Washington International Airport, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
  • William P. Hobby Airport, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
  • Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
  • Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
  • McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
  • Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California, U.S.A.
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
  • San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California, U.S.A.
  • Tampa International Airport, Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.

SIZE OF FLEET: 720

WEBSITE: Southwest.com

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 and has been growing ever since. Today they offer flights to 101 destinations with airlcrafts flying to 40 of the states in America (Misachi). One of the things that makes Southwest so successful is their unique business model that deserves some attention. They choose to purchase only one plane for their entire fleet. The chosen aircraft model is the Boeing 737. This allows them to cut costs when trying to outfit their planes as everything fits the exact same way inside. This also helps with cutting costs to service the plane and in being able to find qualified mechanics as they are only needing to be experts in one plane model (Fleming). While they are not the number one airline, there are many things that they did well.The company started as a small airline in 1971 and have grown to be one of the top airlines in the entire world.The company continues to have an increase in their profits each year. Southwest has also been ranked as one of the Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies from Fortunes Magazine. The company has won many industry awards for their customer service, safety, and environmental standards (Tracy).

United Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 143.2 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America United States Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 10

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
  • Newark International Airport, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
  • San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
  • Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
  • Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
  • Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan
  • Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, Hagatna, Guam
  • Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

SIZE OF FLEET: 1,229

WEBSITE: United.com

United Airlines

United Airlines was actually founded under the name Varney Air Lines in 1926. Today they operate a fleet of 758 aircrafts (Misachi). United Airlines offers some of the most popular domestic and international flights leaving from the United States. They are known for their comfort and for being a great airline to work with if you have customer service issues. One of the things that they are not great with is fares. United Airlines tickets are often more expensive than their competition, but their customer service is great enough that many people choose to only fly United. One interesting fact about the United Airlines past is that the stewardesses at one time were all trained nurses who were able to provide care if someone had an emergency medical situation while on the plane (Tracy).

Ryanair

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 119.8 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Dublin, Ireland Ireland Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 50

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • London Stansted Airport, London, England
  • Luton Airport, London, England
  • Dublin Airport, Dublin, Ireland
  • East Midlands Airport, East Midlands of England
  • Birmingham Airport, Birmingham, England
  • Leeds Bradford Airport, West Yorkshire, England
  • Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain
  • Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland
  • Barcelona El-Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain
  • Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool, England
  • Krakow John Paul II International Airport, Krakow, Poland
  • Malta International Airport, Malta
  • Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, Budapest, Hungary
  • Ciampino G.B. Pastine International Airport, Rome, Italy
  • Bristol Airport, North Somerset, England
  • Palma de Mallorca Airport, Majorca, Spain
  • Frankfurt Hahn Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Brussels South Charleroi Airport, Brussels, Belgium
  • Cork Airport, Cork, Ireland
  • Alicante - Elche Airport, Elche, Spain
  • George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast, Ireland
  • Malaga Airport, Malaga, Spain
  • Tenerife South Airport, Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • Warsaw Modlin Airport, Warsaw, Poland
  • Gran Canaria Airport, Canary Islands
  • Marrakesh Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Porto Airport, Porto, Portugal
  • Bratislava Airport, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Bournemouth Airport, Bournemouth, England
  • Seville Airport, Seville, Spain
  • Thessaloniki Airport, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Faro Airport, Faro, Portugal
  • Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport, Bologna, Italy
  • Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport, Gdansk, Poland
  • Valencia Airport, Valencia, Spain
  • Copernicus Airport Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Portugal
  • Paphos International Airport, Paphos, Cyprus
  • Weeze Airport, Lower Rhine, Germany
  • Girona - Costa Brava Airport, Castalonia, Spain
  • Kerry Airport, Kerry, Ireland
  • Bremen Airport, Bremen, Germany
  • Stockholm Skavsta Airport, Nykoping, Sweden
  • Reus Airport, Catalonia, Spain
  • Pisa International Airport, Pisa, Italy
  • Marseille Provence Airport, Marseille, France
  • Zadar Airport, Zadar, Croatia
  • Kaunas Airport, Kaunas, Lithuania
  • II Caravaggio International Airport, Milan, Italy

SIZE OF FLEET: 349

WEBSITE: Ryanair.com

Ryanair

Ryanair is the largest of all of the airlines in Europe and is based in Ireland. Ryanair covers a lot of airspace and offers flights to thirty four countries which are located throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (Misachi). Ryanair works to keep prices affordable and follows some of the other airlines on this list in some of their practices that have helped to reduce the overall cost of operations. One of these is that they use mostly one single plane model which helps to reduce a number of different expenses. This airline has a mixed reputation. It is very low frills which means that you are not going to be getting any extras as they have cut all of those to keep the prices as low as possible (Levin).

China Southern Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 84.9 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China China Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 6

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, China
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Guangdong, China
  • Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, Chongqing, China
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, China
  • Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Guangdong, China
  • Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, Xinjiang, China

SIZE OF FLEET: 515

WEBSITE: Csair.com

China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airline is the largest airline in China. They operate over 2,000 flights and offer services to 210 destinations in thirty five different countries (Misachi). This airline is continuing to grow each year and it is expected to be a major player in the international airline game. They are the number one airline in China and continue to have a good high quality flight for their passengers which keeps them coming back. The company also has won some awards in China.They have made it onto the Top 50 Chinese Companies list several years in a row. In addition, they were able to win the Stars of China Award in 2014. They were originally part of China’s SkyTeam which was an alliance of six different Chinese airlines, but they did part ways a few years ago (Tracy).

China Eastern Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 80.9 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Shanghai, China China Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 5

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, China
  • Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai, China
  • Xi’an Xianyang International Airport, Xi’an, China
  • Kunming Changshui International Airport, Yunnan, China
  • Kunming Wujiaba International Airport, Yunnan, China

SIZE OF FLEET: 429

WEBSITE: Ceair.com

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines is the second largest airline in China. When combined with the other top three, the three airlines are known as the “Big Three” (Misachi). China Eastern Airlines is also owned by an airline group. It is a part of the SkyTeam alliance between airlines. Customers love the comfort and special perks that they get with the airline that makes flying comfortable for anyone (Deepika). There have been a few recent complaints about the airline in regards to safety. In fact, it has been reported that the staff does not seem to take the safety seriously and that they do not adhere to safety regulations that they are supposed to (Levin).

easyJet

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 73.1 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Luton, Bedfordshire, London, United Kingdom United Kingdom Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 24

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Luton Airport, London, England
  • Gatwick Airport, London, England
  • London Stansted Airport, London, England
  • Manchester Airport, Manchester, England
  • East Midlands Airport, East Midlands, England
  • Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool, England
  • Glasgow Airport, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France
  • Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Berlin, Schonefeld Airport, Berlin, Germany
  • Newcastle Airport, New Castle, United Kingdom
  • Belfast International Airport, Belfast, Ireland
  • Bristol Airport, Bristol, England
  • Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain
  • Leonardo da Vinci - Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy
  • Orly Airport, Paris, France
  • EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, Breisgau, Germany
  • Toulouse Blagnac Airport, Occitainie, France
  • Nice Cote d’Azur Airport, Maritimes, France
  • Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Berlin, Germany
  • Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy
  • Lisbon Portela Airport, Lisbon, Spain
  • Lyon - Saint Exupery Airport, Lyon, France
  • Geneve Aeroport, Geneva, Switzerland

SIZE OF FLEET: 320

WEBSITE: Easyjet.com

easyJet

easyJet is the largest airline in the United Kingdom. It offers services to over thirty countries and is Europe’s second largest airline. The company was started in 1995 (Misachi). One of the things that sets easyJet apart from other airlines on this list is that they are an economy airline and most of the other airlines are full service. They work to ensure that flights are efficient and prices are fair. This airline continues to grow in strength and is getting bigger each year, which means that it is one airline that could begin to climb up the list so that it was a more popular choice. This airline started at the right time and was able to grow quickly because they remained small and affordable when other airlines were merging and becoming more expensive (Levin).

Turkish AIrlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 62.8 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Istanbul, Turkey Turkey Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 6

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Esenboga International Airport, Ankara, Turkey
  • Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Antalya Airport, Antalya, Turkey
  • Adnan Menderes Airport, Izmar, Turkey

SIZE OF FLEET: 339

WEBSITE: Turkishairlines.com

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines is the largest airline in Turkey and they fly around the world. This airline has been around for more than eighty five years, but was a small airline for the majority of those. Today the company flies cargo planes to seventy three countries around the world (Misachi). Turkish Airlines is one of the best airlines for those who want special perks and advantages to make their air adventures more comfortable. Customers love the experience that they have with Turkish Airlines. Plus, their lounge is known for having diversions that will make you forget that you are waiting on a plane. However, even with all of these perks, the airline does not have a first class seat. Instead you must simply choose between Business and Economy seats (Levin).

Lufthansa

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 62.4 million

HEADQUARTERS LOCATION: Cologne, Germany Germany Flag

NUMBER OF HUBS: 9

HUB LOCATION(S):

  • Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Heathrow Airport, London, England
  • Munich Airport, Munich, Germany
  • Zurich Airport, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Vienna International Airport, Vienna, Austria
  • Brussels Airport, Brussels, Belgium
  • Dusseldorf Airport, Dusseldorf, Germany
  • Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Berlin, Germany
  • Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy

SIZE OF FLEET: 293

WEBSITE: Lufthansa.com

Lufthansa

Lufthansa is the largest airline in Germany. They were actually one of the founders of the Star Alliance Group that also includes United Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, and Air Canada (Misachi). Lufthansa is another airline on the list that was actually a merger of two separate airlines previously. Lufthansa actually was the merger of Deutscher Aero Lloyd and Junkers Luftverkehr. After World War II in 1945, the company was actually forced to stop operating.The company reopened in 1953 but was not able to do so until after 1955. Today they have been honored through World Airline Awards with the following awards: World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge, Best Airline in Europe, and Best Airline Transatlantic. Plus, they have been awarded the prestigious Skytrax Five Star Certification (Tracy).

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