Updated on January 18, 2024 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

The global airline industry has faced a rollercoaster ride in recent years. While 2018 saw impressive growth with nearly $600 billion in revenue and an 8% rise in profits, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a near standstill in 2020 and 2021.

However, 2022 marked a significant comeback, with airlines generating an estimated $772 billion in revenue and returning to profitability with a modest $10.1 billion in operating income, despite continued pandemic disruptions. This rebound was driven by a surge in demand, particularly for domestic and leisure travel, as people embraced the opportunity to fly again after months of lockdowns and travel restrictions (Statista). While profits remain below pre-pandemic levels, the industry is on track for further recovery in 2024.

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.

A few airlines have put themselves in the position to be considered the best airlines from around the globe. These are the top choices of many passengers and the airlines that you may want to familiarise yourself with if you have plans to travel the world.

Top 10 Largest Airlines in 2022-23

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, In this blog, we are looking at the largest airlines in the world by the number of passengers they carry globally.

Largest airlines by number of passengers travelled.

Adopted from: Visual Capitalist

1- American Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 199.3 million

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


SIZE OF FLEET: 965 aircraft


American Airlines

While American Airlines is already the most travelled airline, there is no reason to assume that it will not be dominating the airspace for years to come.

They have plans to increase their air fleet by more than 100 aircraft, which means that they will be offering more than their current 6,800 daily flights around the globe (gcs-web).

American Airlines is a part of the American Airlines Group, which is a result of American Airlines merging with U.S. Airways. The company had even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.

It almost ruined them, but instead, they have continued to rise from their past misfortune. The company rose 25 spots in the Fortune 500.  Its revenue rose 64% to $49 billion in 2022, and the number of miles travelled by paying passengers rose 34% (fortune.com).

2- Delta Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 171.4 million

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



WEBSITE: Delta.com


Delta is considered to be the second world’s largest airline carrying passengers internationally to six continents and various destinations across the world. Delta’s headquarters is located in Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is one of the busiest airports in the United States and the world (Misachi).

Delta has grown into a global airline giant, now operating over 5,400 daily flights and serving 325 destinations in 52 countries across six continents (Delta Airlines).

Delta Airlines moved 28 spots up this year’s list to 85, thanks to a robust travel rebound in the wake of the COVID-era slowdown. Its operating revenue for the year reached $50.6 billion, up 69% from 2021 (Fortune.com).

3- Ryanair

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 168.6 million

HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Dublin, Ireland Ireland Flag



WEBSITE: Ryanair.com


Ryanair is based in Ireland, and it’s the third-largest airline in Europe. Ryanair covers a lot of airspaces and offers flights to 400 destinations in 41 countries, which are located throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (Misachi). They are operating an average of 2400 flights daily (FlightConnections).

Ryanair works to keep prices affordable and follows some of the other airlines on this list in that some of their practices have helped reduce the overall cost of operations. One of these is that they use mostly one model of plane, which helps to reduce the number of different expenses.

This airline has a mixed reputation. It is very ‘low frills,’ which means that you will not be getting any extras as they have cut all of those to keep the prices as low as possible (Levin).

Ryanair Holdings ranks 315 with $11.2 billion in revenue (up 101.1%). The Ireland-headquartered airline has 22,261 employees and made a profit of $1.4 billion (Fortune.com).

4- United Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 144.3 million

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



WEBSITE: United.com

United Airlines

United Airlines was founded under the name Varney Air Lines in 1926. Today, they operate a fleet of 944 aircraft (airfleets.com ).

United Airlines offers some of the most popular international and domestic flights in the United States. They are known for their comfort and being a great airline to work with if you have customer service issues.

Today, United’s wings stretch far beyond its North American home base, encompassing an impressive 6,700-7000 daily flights across six continents and 171 destinations in 51 countries (United Airlines).

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 flight attendants, 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).

United Airlines, one of the largest American airline carriers by revenue, has jumped 50 spots on this year’s Fortune 500, securing a spot within the top 100. The Chicago-based company benefited from the post-COVID travel rebound, bringing in $45 billion in revenue in 2022, an 83% increase from 2021 (Fortune.com).

5- Southwest Airlines

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 126.6 million

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



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 aircraft flying to 40 of the states in America (Misachi).

One of the things that makes Southwest so successful is its unique business model, which deserves some attention. They choose to purchase only one type of plane for their entire fleet. They chose the aircraft model Boeing 737.

This allows them to cut costs when trying to outfit their planes as everything fits the 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 this one Boeing aircraft model (Fleming).

While they are not the number one airline, there are many things that they have done well. Southwest Airlines started as a small company in 1971, and since then, they have grown to be one of the top airlines in the entire world.

While Southwest doesn’t officially publish its daily flight count, industry estimates suggest it operates around 4,000 flights daily. This vast network, combined with its unique approach, has cemented Southwest’s position as the world’s largest low-cost carrier and a beloved brand among millions of travellers.

The company continues to see an increase in its profits and the number of passengers carried each year. Southwest has also been ranked 164th by Fortune Magazine. The company has won many industry awards for its customer service, safety, and environmental standards (Fortune.com).

6- Lufthansa

PASSENGERS PER YEAR: 101.8 million

HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Cologne, Germany Germany Flag



WEBSITE: Lufthansa.com


Lufthansa is the largest airline in Germany. They were one of the founders of the Star Alliance Group, which also includes United Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, and Air Canada (Misachi).

Lufthansa’s impressive network encompasses over 220 destinations in 52 countries across six continents. From bustling hubs like London and Tokyo to exotic locales like Namibia and Mauritius, Lufthansa offers a gateway to a world of diverse experiences.

Lufthansa operates an average of 1,464 daily flights globally (OAG.com).

Lufthansa is another airline on the list that was a merger of two separate airlines previously. Lufthansa was created during the merger of Deutscher Aero Lloyd and Junkers Luftverkehr.

After World War II, in 1945, the company was 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).

Lufthansa Group ranks 105 with $34.5 billion in revenue (up 73.4%). The Germany-headquartered airline has 93,083 employees and made a profit of $832 million (Fortun.com).

airplane flying over the city

7. IAG


HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: London, United Kingdom.



WEBSITE: iairgroup.com

IAG airlines

Image adapted from: aviationpros.com

International Airlines Group (IAG), a titan forged from the merger of aviation giants, boasts a diverse portfolio and a soaring presence across the globe. Formed in 2010 through the union of British Airways and Iberia, IAG has since added Aer Lingus and LEVEL to its fold, creating a network that stretches across continents and cultures.

IAG’s strength lies in its diverse portfolio, catering to a wide range of travellers with its budget-friendly Level and Vueling airlines, the premium offerings of British Airways and Iberia, and the hybrid model of Aer Lingus. This flexibility, coupled with a commitment to innovation and sustainability, ensures IAG’s continued ascent in the global aviation landscape.

Today, IAG’s wings carry passengers to over 280 destinations in 53 countries, spanning five continents. From bustling metropolises like New York and Tokyo to exotic locales like Marrakech and Nairobi, IAG offers a gateway to a world of diverse experiences.

IAG operates an average of 1,530 daily flights globally (OAG).

IAG is committed to sustainability and has set ambitious goals to reduce its carbon footprint.

8- Indigo





WEBSITE: goindigo.in

Indigo airlines

Image adapted from Smoothflightsupport

Indigo, India’s low-cost carrier, is a true aviation success story. Founded in 2006 with just four Airbus A320s, it has since become the largest airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size. With its vibrant blue and yellow logo adorning its fleet, Indigo has painted the Indian skies with a budget-friendly, customer-centric approach.

Through strategic expansion and a focus on operational efficiency, Indigo has grown into a global player, serving over 70 destinations in 13 countries (goIndigo.in). This includes:

  • India: Indigo blankets the Indian subcontinent, connecting bustling metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore with remote corners of the country.
  • Asia and Middle East: Its wings stretch beyond India, reaching popular destinations like Dubai, Bangkok, and Singapore, offering a gateway to the vibrant cultures and diverse landscapes of the region.

Indigo operates over 2,000 daily flights (goindigo.in).

Indigo’s success goes beyond just numbers. It has revolutionized the Indian aviation industry by making air travel accessible to a wider segment of the population. Its focus on low fares, on-time performance, and a comfortable flying experience has endeared it to millions of passengers.

9- Turkish Airlines


HEADQUARTERS’ LOCATION: Istanbul, Turkey Turkey Flag



WEBSITE: Turkishairlines.com

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines is the largest airline in Turkey, but they also fly worldwide. Turkish Airlines paints the skies with over 340 destinations in 126 countries across five continents, making it the world’s largest carrier by number of passenger destinations served (Misachi).

OAG, a leading provider of aviation data, estimates the average daily flight number for Turkish Airlines in 2023 to be around 2,300.

Turkish Airlines is one of the best choices 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).

10- easyJet


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



WEBSITE: Easyjet.com


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.

EasyJet boasts a vibrant network stretching across 36 countries and 155 airports, spanning four continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

This airline started at the right time and was able to grow quickly because it remained small and affordable when other airlines were merging and becoming more expensive (Levin).

Thinking about travelling with a famous airline? Don’t miss the chance to find out if there are any easyjet voucher codes and deals available at the moment.

Final Thoughts

The largest airlines in the world gain this title through various tactics, but one stays the same – these are the companies that are the most popular amongst passengers around the world.

Whether you’re flying domestically or choosing one of the international routes, travelling with one of these companies will get you to your destination. And using our promo codes will make this so much sweeter!


  1. https://www.planespotters.net/airline/easyJet?refresh=1
  2. https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/EasyJet.htm
  3. https://www.goindigo.in/
  4. https://www.planespotters.net/airline/IndiGo?refresh=1
  5. https://fortune.com/
  6. https://www.lufthansa.com/
  7. https://americanairlines.gcs-web.com/
  8. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/ranked-largest-airlines-by-passengers
  9. https://www.statista.com/statistics/227443/airline-passengers-of-american-airlines-usa/