World’s 10 Largest Passengers and Freight Airlines, 2018

World’s 10 Largest Passengers and Freight Airlines, 2015

Source: IATA, World Air Transport Statistics.

Significant differences exist between passenger and air carriers. Because of the large amount of domestic traffic generated within the United States, China, and Europe, the world’s top passenger carriers are either American, Chinese, and European. Through mergers, American Airlines (with US Airways in 2013), Delta (with Northwest in 2010), and United (with Continental in 2010) were able to become the world’s largest passenger airlines. Air transport has boomed in China, with Chinese carriers starting to appear among the world’s largest. It is also relevant to underline low-cost carriers such as Southwest in the United States and Ryanair in Europe that achieved preeminence with extensive service networks.

Among the world’s largest freight airlines, market dominance is achieved by two specialized carriers; UPS and Federal Express. Their fleet is entirely devoted to cargo operations, and they provide a function of cargo integration through dedicated hubs such as Louisville (UPS) and Memphis (FedEx). Asian freight carriers also play a significant role (e.g. Cathay Pacific, Korean Airlines, Air China), benefiting from the growth of high-tech exports from Asian economies to European and North American markets. Many regular airlines have a cargo division that allows them to either ship freight through dedicated cargo planes or through the bellyhold of their long-distance flights. The emergence of the Middle East as a major cargo hub between East Asia and Europe has propelled Emirates and Qatar among the top freight airlines, a role they did not assume just a few years ago.