Being able to find a great airline is something that most people strive for each time that they fly. There are so many uncertainties when you are flying that there are definitely 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 familiarise yourself with if you have 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 carry globally. 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 travelling than before (Tracy).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 198.7 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Fort Worth, Texas, United States of America
NUMBER OF HUBS: 11
SIZE OF FLEET: 956 aircraft
While American Airlines is already the most travelled on airline, there is no reason to assume that they will not be dominating the airspace for years to come. In fact, they have current plans to increase their air fleet by more than 100 aircraft, 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 misfortune. Fortune Magazine even ranked the company as one of their best turnarounds in 2016 (Tracy).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 183.7 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
NUMBER OF HUBS: 14
SIZE OF FLEET: 885 (687 owned/198 leased)
Delta is one of the largest airlines in the world carrying passengers to six continents and allowing many of their passengers to see the world. Their headquarters is located in Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is the busiest airport in the United States (Misachi). Delta Airlines is the oldest airline 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 travellers (Tracy).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 151.8 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Dallas, Texas, United States of America
NUMBER OF HUBS: 13
SIZE OF FLEET: 720
Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 and has been growing ever since. Today, they offer flights to 101 destinations with aircraft flying to 40 of the states in America (Misachi). One of the things that makes Southwest so successful is their unique business model, which deserves some attention. They choose to purchase only one type of 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 only need to be experts in one plane model (Fleming). While they are not the number one airline, there are many things that they have done 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 see an increase in their profits each year. Southwest has also been ranked as one of the Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune Magazine. The company has won many industry awards for their customer service, safety and environmental standards (Tracy).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 143.2 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
NUMBER OF HUBS: 10
SIZE OF FLEET: 1,229
United Airlines was actually founded under the name Varney Air Lines in 1926. Today, they operate a fleet of 758 aircraft (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 competitors’ , but their customer service is great enough that many people choose to only fly United. One interesting fact about 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).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 119.8 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Dublin, Ireland
NUMBER OF HUBS: 50
SIZE OF FLEET: 349
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 34 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 in this list in that some of their practices have helped to reduce the overall cost of operations. One of these is that they use mostly one model of plane, 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
NUMBER OF HUBS: 6
SIZE OF FLEET: 515
China Southern Airlines is the largest airline in China. They operate over 2,000 flights and offer services to 210 destinations in 35 different countries (Misachi). This airline continues 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 offer good, high-quality flights to their passengers, which keeps them coming back. The company has also 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
NUMBER OF HUBS: 5
SIZE OF FLEET: 429
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 regard to safety. In fact, it has been reported that the staff do not seem to take safety seriously and that they do not adhere to the safety regulations that they are supposed to (Levin).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 73.1 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Luton, Bedfordshire, London, United Kingdom
NUMBER OF HUBS: 24
SIZE OF FLEET: 320
easyJet is the largest airline in the United Kingdom. It offers services to over 30 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, becoming 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).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 62.8 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Istanbul, Turkey
NUMBER OF HUBS: 6
SIZE OF FLEET: 339
Turkish Airlines is the largest airline in Turkey, and they fly around the world. This airline has been around for more than 85 years, but it was a small airline for the majority of these. Today, the company flies cargo planes to 73 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 for a plane. However, even with all of these perks, the airline does not offer a first-class seat. Instead you must simply choose between business and economy seats (Levin).
PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 62.4 million
HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Cologne, Germany
NUMBER OF HUBS: 9
SIZE OF FLEET: 293
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 resume flights until after 1955. Today, they have been honoured 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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