7 Largest Airline Companies in the World

The largest airlines in the world can be defined in several ways such by company revenue, passengers carried, scheduled passenger-kilometers flown or freight tonne-kilometers in millions, fleet size, the number of countries served, brand value, etc. likewise most frequently used metrics is revenue passenger-kilometers (RPKs). Revenue passenger-kilometers (RPK) is calculated by multiplying the number of annual revenue passengers by the total distance traveled. According to Statista in 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, revenue passenger kilometers in Asia pacific region decreased by 65.8 percent compared to 2019. Using this RPKs metric, the following seven airlines currently come out on top:

American Airlines

American Airlines Group Inc. is an American publicly traded one of the largest airline companies headquartered in Forth Worth, Texas. It is not only in terms of revenue passenger-kilometers but also in terms of fleet size and total passengers carried, it had founded on December 9, 2013, by the merger of AMR Corporation and US Airways Group. American Airlines has been providing air passenger services since 1936 and is a member of the Oneworld Airline Alliance. The company has achieved rank No. 70 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United State corporations. American Airlines offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights daily to 350 destinations in 50 countries which created more than 900,000 jobs worldwide.

Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines, Inc. called as Delta, is one of the world’s oldest and the largest airline company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company has founded on June 17, 1929. Delta operates over 5,400 flights daily and serves 325 destinations in 52 countries with 877 fleet size and it is ranked 69th on the Fortune 500. Delta has created more than 75000+ jobs worldwide with services to more than 200 million passengers each year. Delta Airlines is also recognized as the largest member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.

United Airlines

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. had founded originally as UAL, Inc. in 1968 and was formerly known as United Continental Holdings, Inc., UAL Corporation, and Allegis Corporation. United is a publicly traded airline holding company headquartered in the Willis Tower in Chicago. United is a founding member of the Star Alliance and became the world’s largest airline, as measured by revenue passenger miles. United also owns and operates United Airlines, Inc., with 93000+ employees and has a fleet of around 800 aircraft, and serves more than 300 destinations worldwide. It is widely known as the third-largest airline in the world providing services for more than 150 million passengers annually.


Emirates is a state-owned airline, based in Garhoud Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As measured by RPKs, it is one of the largest airlines in the world with a fleet size of more than 262 aircraft, serving in more than 80 countries and employing over 105,000 employees. Emirates is the second largest airline in the world for the movement of cargo or freight, making it one of the biggest employers in the Middle East.


Southwest Airlines Co., is a low-cost airline, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, United States. Southwest providing services since 1971 with more than 700 aircraft and offers flights to around 120 destinations across 11 countries. The airline was started on march 15, 1967, named Air Southwest Co. and adopted its current name, Southwest Airlines Co., in 1971. Southwest has nearly 60,000 employees and operates about 4,000 departures during peak travel time.

China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines Company Limited is an airline headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China and it is the largest airline in China, with a 645 fleet size and more than 100,000 employees. It has more than 2000 flights operated to more than 200 destinations daily. It is in service since 1988. Until 2020, China Southern Airlines was part of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance.


Ryanair is a low-cost airline founded in 1984 and headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair is the largest part of the Ryanair Holdings family of airlines and has several sister airlines, with a fleet size of more than 300 aircraft. It is Ireland’s largest airline and in 2016 became Europe’s largest budget airline by scheduled passengers flown. Ryanair is especially notable for offering more routes and international passengers than any other airline in the world. Ryanair connects over 240 destinations in over 40 countries and offer the lowest fares in Europe along with 17,000+ jobs.