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Leading airlines worldwide in 2013, based on revenue passenger kilometers (in millions)

 Number of passengers carried in millions
United 287.2
Delta 278
Air France/KLM 228.9
Emirates* 209.3
American 206.5
Southwest 167.8
Lufthansa 153.4
China Southern 148.4
Air China 142.6
British Airways 131
China Eastern 120.4
LATAM 106.5
US Airways 105.5
Cathay Pacific 104.6
Ryanair* 103.5
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This statistic depicts the leading airlines worldwide in 2013, based on revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). The ranking was dominated by US-based airlines: Chicago-headquartered United topped the list, with around 287 million RPKs in 2013.


Air passengers

The rising middle classes in emerging economies are expected to help global air traffic grow at an annual rate of four percent from 2013 to 2023. Such emerging regions, particularly Latin America and China, are on the cusp of becoming key markets for the aviation industry. In 2012, Chinese tourists spent a staggering 102 billion US dollars during their holidays outside their home country. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Summer Games coming to Brazil, Latin America is bracing itself for an enormous influx of international visitors. Many airports, including Brazil’s largest airport São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport (IATA: GRU), are undergoing major expansions and optimizations in order to serve the millions of visitors that are expected to converge on Brazil for these two sporting events.

The positive trends in the aviation industry are further underpinned by the ongoing globalization of the world’s economies. Passenger demand is fuelled by tourists and businesspeople alike, and airlines around the world are keen to improve service quality and customer satisfaction. In 2012, the rate of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers dropped to 8.83 in 2012, down from 8.99 in 2011. Furthermore, the number of passengers who are bumped from oversold flights is on the decline. In the United States, 0.09 percent of passengers were denied boarding in 2012, while some 0.15 percent of passengers were not allowed on the flight - despite holding confirmed reservations - in 1993.

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