Top 7 World Largest Airlines in 2010

Following the line of the airports we’ve posted (Top 7 Busiest Airports in 2010 and Top 7 Best Airports in 2010), we should ask ourselves: what is an airport without an airplane? This brings us an opportunity to talk about airplanes and airlines, and for sure the best way to start talking about this subject is to check the Top 7 Largest Airlines.

You might be tempted to think of the biggest airline as the one with the most aircraft, but capacity differences make this reasoning specious. American Eagle, for instance, has more planes than JAL, Qantas or All Nippon, but is nowhere close when it comes to passengers or RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometer), which will be the metric we will use in our list. To explain this better, check this example: one passenger traveling one kilometer equals one RPK. In other words, flying a hundred people from Cape Town to London outscores flying them from Dallas to Phoenix. Except, running Dallas to Phoenix 12 times a day can make up the difference. Thus RPKs account for customer volume, frequency of flights and distances flown:

1. Delta Air Lines

Amount of Passengers: 162 614 714

Main Hub: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (#1 in our Top7 Busiest Airports in 2010)

Headquarter: Atlanta, USA

Fleet size: 726

Ranking by fleet size: 1

Number of destinations: 358

Ranking by number of destinations: 1

2. United Airlines

Amount of Passengers: 145 550 000

Main Hub: O’Hare International Airport

Headquarter: Chicago, USA

Fleet size: 710

Ranking by fleet size: 3

Number of destinations: 230

Ranking by number of destinations: 5

3. Southwest Airlines

Amount of Passengers: 130 948 747

Main Hub: point-to-point transit

Headquarter: Dallas, USA

Fleet size: 550

Ranking by fleet size: 6

Number of destinations: 72

Ranking by number of destinations: no rank (*)

4. American Airlines

Amount of Passengers: 105 163 576

Main Hub: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Headquarter: Dallas – Forth Worth, USA

Fleet size: 625

Ranking by fleet size: 4

Number of destinations: 250

Ranking by number of destinations: 3

5. Lufthansa

Amount of Passengers: 90 173 000

Main Hub: Flughafen Frankfurt am Main

Headquarter: Frankfurt, Germany

Fleet size: 722

Ranking by fleet size: 2

Number of destinations: 202

Ranking by number of destinations: 6

6. China Southern Airlines

Amount of Passengers: 76 500 000

Main Hub: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

Headquarter: Guangzhou, China

Fleet size: 340

Ranking by fleet size: 8

Number of destinations: 121

Ranking by number of destinations: 20

7. Ryanair

Amount of Passengers: 72 719 666

Main Hub: Dublin Airport

Headquarter: Dublin, Ireland

Fleet size: 251

Ranking by fleet size: 14

Number of destinations: 153

Ranking by number of destinations: 14

(*) Ranking available only for airlines with 100 or more destinations

Source: Wikipedia,,,


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