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World's Top 5 Airlines and Airports in 2018

World's Top 5 Airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released performance figures for 2018, revealing total number of passengers flew in 2018 as well as top airlines, airports and airline alliances.

The IATA World Air Transport Statistics (2019 WATS) confirms that:

  • 4.4 billion passengers flew in 2018
  • Record efficiency was achieved with 81.9% of available seats being filled
  • Fuel efficiency improved by more than 12% compared to 2010
  • 22,000 city pairs are now connected by direct flights, up 1,300 over 2017 and double the 10,250 city pairs connected in 1998
  • The real cost of air transport has more than halved over the last 20 years (to around 78 US cents per revenue tonne-kilometer, or RTK).

"Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before. The freedom to fly is more accessible than ever. And our world is a more prosperous place as a result. As with any human activity this comes with an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing. We understand that sustainability is essential to our license to spread aviation’s benefits. From 2020 we will cap net carbon emissions growth. And, by 2050, we will cut our net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels. This ambitious climate action goal needs government support. It is critical for sustainable aviation fuels, new technology and more efficient routes to deliver the greener future we are aiming for," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Highlights of the 2018 airline industry performance:

Passenger

  • System-wide, airlines carried 4.4 billion passengers on scheduled services, an increase of 6.9% over 2017, representing an additional 284 million trips by air.  
  • The development of the low-cost carrier (LCC)* segment continues to outpace that of network carriers. 
  • Measured in ASKs (available seat kilometers), LCC capacity grew by 13.4%, almost doubling the overall industry growth rate of 6.9%. LCCs accounted for 21% of global capacity) in 2018, up from 11% in 2004.
  • When looking at available seats, the global share of LCCs in 2018 was 29%, reflecting the short-haul nature of their business model. This is up from 16% in 2004.
  • Some 52 of IATA’s 290 current member airlines classify themselves as LCCs, and other new model airlines.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers systemwide. The regional rankings (based on total passengers carried on scheduled services by airlines registered in that region) are:

  1. Asia-Pacific1% market share (1.6 billion passengers, an increase of 9.2% compared to the region’s passengers in 2017) 
  2. Europe2% market share (1.1 billion passengers, up 6.6% over 2017) 
  3. North America 6% market share (989.4 million passengers, up 4.8% over 2017)
  4. Latin America9% market share (302.2 million passengers, up 5.7% over 2017)
  5. Middle East1 % market share (224.2 million passengers, an increase of 4.0% over 2017) 
  6. Africa1% market share (92 million passengers, up 5.5% over 2017). 

The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown, were:

  1. American Airlines (330.6 billion)
  2. Delta Air Lines (330 billion) 
  3. United Airlines (329.6 billion)
  4. Emirates (302.3 billion)
  5. Southwest Airlines (214.6 billion)

The top five international/regional passenger airport-pairs** were all within the Asia-Pacific region again this year:

  1. Hong Kong - Taipei Taoyuan (5.4 million, down 0.4% from 2017) 
  2. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - Hong Kong (3.4 million, increased 8.8% from 2017)
  3. Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta - Singapore Changi (3.2 million, decreased 3.3% from 2017)
  4. Seoul-Incheon - Osaka-Kansai (2.9 million, an increase of 16.5% from 2017)
  5. Kuala Lumpur–International – Singapore Changi (2.8 million, up 2.1% from 2017)

The top five domestic passenger airport-pairs were also all in the Asia-Pacific region:

  1. Jeju - Seoul Gimpo (14.5 million, up 7.6% over 2017)
  2. Fukuoka - Tokyo Haneda (7.6 million, an increase of 0.9% from 2017) 
  3. Melbourne-Tullamarine - Sydney (7.6 million, down 2.1% from 2017)
  4. Sapporo - Tokyo-Haneda (7.3 million, decreased by 1.5% from 2017) 
  5. Beijing Capital - Shanghai Hongqiao (6.4 million, up 0.4% from 2017)

The top five nationalities*** traveling (international routes) are: 

  • United Kingdom (126.2 million, or 8.6% of all passengers)
  • United States (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers)
  • People’s Republic of China (97 million, or 6.6% of all passengers)
  • Germany (94.3 million, or 6.4% of all passengers)
  • France (59.8 million, or 4.1% of all passengers)

Cargo 

  • Following a very strong year in 2017, air freight volumes grew more modestly in 2018 in line with global trade volumes. Globally, freight and mail tonne kilometers (FTKs) showed a 3.4% expansion as compared to 9.7% in 2017. With capacity increasing by 5.2% in 2018, the freight load factor fell by 0.8 percentage point to 49.3%.

The top five airlines ranked by scheduled freight tonne kilometers flown were:

  • Federal Express (17.5 billion) 
  • Emirates (12.7 billion)
  • Qatar Airways (12.7 billion)  
  • United Parcel Service (12.5 billion)
  • Cathay Pacific Airways (11.3 billion)

Airline Alliances

  • Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2018 with 21.9% of total scheduled traffic (in RPKs), followed by SkyTeam (18.8%) and oneworld (15.4%).

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