In this article, we are going to take a look at the 15 largest airlines in the world in 2022. To pass our detailed analysis, you can directly go to the 5 largest airlines in the world in 2022.
Since 2020, you cannot discuss the airline industry without considering the impact of the pandemic, which has not only devastated the industry over the past 2 years, but also changed its trajectory to the future. Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the world was more connected than ever, and airlines played a huge role, with more routes than ever before, making it easy for people to travel wherever they want at a price. affordable.
However, once the pandemic hit, most countries around the world went into lockdown, with domestic and international travel initially suspended, before lifting the suspension for the former after a few months. For several months in a row, several times a year, people were confined to their homes, and traveling by plane in an enclosed space with more than a hundred other people was almost unfathomable. The devastation this caused to the airline industry cannot be underestimated; industry revenue in 2020 accounted for approximately 40% of total revenue in 2019.
While it appears the pandemic has largely subsided, at least in most countries where pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the impact of the past two years has changed the industry forever, in multiple ways. For example, the airline industry, and the world’s largest airlines in 2022 in particular, have increased health and safety standards to ensure passenger comfort while digitalization has also increased massively. While many digitized options, such as online check-in and seat selection, were introduced long before the pandemic, they are now the go-to choice for many passengers to reduce human contact a bit and increase efficiency.
The modus operandi of many airlines is to provide cheap economy class seats with low margins and subsidize this by overpricing business class. Business class is generally used either by the extremely wealthy or by companies for business travel, with many companies introducing business class travel policies being allowed if the total flight time reaches a certain threshold. However, while leisure travel is expected to rebound faster, the same is not true for the corporate segment, as most employees prefer to work remotely, being able to easily connect to a wide range of digital tools. According to McKinsey, even in 2024, business travel will be only 80% of pre-pandemic levels. History also supports this belief; business travel took much longer to recover after 9/11 and also after the financial crash. In fact, business travel had still not returned to pre-financial crash levels before the pandemic hit. Meanwhile, leisure travel has historically rebounded faster and given the travel fiasco in 2022, that remains true.
Since leisure travel has rebounded faster, this is the area airlines have targeted to cut losses and, in some cases, even post profits. When business has drastically declined over the past couple of years, most airlines and major airports have cut staff significantly, with companies laying off or laying off tens of thousands of staff at a time in a bid to combat the increasing losses. When travel returned to or near normal in the summer of 2022, some airlines and most airports in Europe and the United States were severely understaffed and unable to handle traffic. That’s why it was probably the worst time to be a passenger. Many airlines, particularly in the United States, reported a record second quarter, although this revenue was driven by exorbitant tickets rather than an increase in passenger numbers (the amount passengers pay per mile in four major US airlines was 19.3% higher than the same quarter in 2019). While passenger numbers have increased significantly in 2022, they are still below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, airports were not properly staffed or ready on time, resulting in chaotic images of queues of hundreds, luggage strewn everywhere due to a lack of baggage handlers and passengers advised to arrive several hours before their flight in order to avoid any possible delays. It has even led to rows between airlines and airports, the biggest being between Emirates and Heathrow Airport when the latter instituted a limit of 100,000 passengers a day, forcing airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.
According to the International Air Transport Association, profitability is within reach for the global industry in 2023, driven by strong demand and higher prices. Flights in 2022 are already expected to be at 87% of 2019 levels, which is a major rebound, and unless the pandemic returns or a global recession stifles the recovery, this will continue to grow, with revenues of $782 billion in 2023, 93.3% of 2019 levels.
Ranking the world’s largest airlines in 2022 was no easy task. There are several ways to rank airlines, but most of the information found when researching the largest airlines is either unsourced or outdated. Sometimes it’s just not possible to define the biggest airlines based on the number of seats available, when there are much better metrics to consider. For our rankings, we considered each airline’s latest revenue, as well as the number of employees, assigning 70% to the former and 30% to the latter. We also considered the market value; however, some of the largest airlines in the Middle East are not listed, and excluding them would result in a major ranking inaccuracy. All revenue and employee information comes from either the Fortune 500, each company’s annual reports, or their official website. So, let’s take a look at the kings of heaven, starting with number 15:
15. JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU)
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 6.04
Total number of employees: 17,459
JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU) is an American low-cost airline and operates more than 1,000 flights daily. JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU) serves domestic and international destinations with operations in Europe, South America, Central America and the Caribbean, among other destinations.
14. All Nippon Airways
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 7.14
Total number of employees: 13,689
All Nippon Airways is a Japanese airline and besides the flagship airline also has several other subsidiaries such as Air Nippon, Air Do and ANA Wings.
13. Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK)
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 6.18
Total number of employees: 21,691
Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE: ALK) is the holding company of two major airlines in the United States, Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines. While Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK) posted a loss of over $1 billion in 2020, it made a comeback in 2021, with net income of over half a billion dollars. dollars.
12. International Airlines Group
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 8.2
Total number of employees: 50,222
International Airlines Group is the holding company of two major airlines in Europe; British Airways and Iberia, the flag carriers of the UK and Spain respectively. Since its inception, the company has also purchased other airlines such as Vueling and Aer Lingus.
11.China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 9.4
Total number of employees: 80,000
After the United States, China has the most entries in the list of the world’s largest airlines. China Eastern Airline is considered one of the country’s “big three” airlines and has a fleet of more than 600 aircraft serving nearly 250 destinations.
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 14.12
Total number of employees: 41,026
Recently named the World’s Best Airline for 2022 by the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022, Qatar Airways, owned by the State of Qatar, offers luxury flights to more than 150 destinations. The airline also won Best Business Class, Best Business Class Seat and Best Business Class Lounge Meal, proving that the luxury offered by the airline is currently unmatched in the world.
9. Chinese Airlines
Total revenue for the last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 10.43
Total number of employees: 88,395
China Airlines is the national airline of China and is state-owned. More than 1,400 flights are operated weekly to more than 100 destinations worldwide by China Airlines.
8. Air France-KLM Group
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 11.89
Total number of employees: 84,062
The second airline in Europe, the Air France-KLM group was created in 2004 after the merger of Air France and KLM. The two major hubs in which the group operates are Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and Amsterdam Schipol airport.
7. Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV)
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 15.79
Total number of employees: 55,093
American has by far the most airlines on this list, and Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) is one of the largest airlines in the world in 2022. Considered the largest low-cast airline in the world, Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) operates more than 4,000 flights daily during peak travel season.
6.China Southern Airlines
Total revenue last fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 14.23
Total number of employees: 98,098
China’s largest airline, China Southern Airlines is Asia’s largest airline by fleet size and operates more than 2,000 flights daily to at least 200 destinations.
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Disclosure: none. 15 Biggest Airlines in the World in 2022 originally posted on Insider Monkey.