Leading airlines worldwide in December 2015, based on revenue passenger kilometers (in billions)

This statistic depicts the leading airlines worldwide in December 2015, based on revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). The ranking was dominated by U.S.-based airlines: American topped the list, with more than 29 billion RPKs in December 2015.

Air passengers

The rising middle classes in emerging economies are expected to help global air traffic grow at an average annual growth rate of four percent till 2034. Such emerging regions, particularly Latin America and China, are on the cusp of becoming key markets for the aviation industry. In 2015, Chinese tourists spent a staggering 292 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 U.S., in 2015, the rate of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers dropped to 3.24 compared with 5.26 in 2008. Furthermore, the number of passengers who are bumped from oversold flights is on the decline. In the United States, 0.08 percent of passengers were denied boarding in 2014, while some 0.15 percent of passengers were not allowed on the flight - despite holding confirmed reservations - in 1993.

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 Number of passengers carried in millions
American 29.5
United 27.6
Delta 26.3
Emirates* 22.6
Air France/KLM 18.57
IAG* 17.55
Southwest 16.1
Lufthansa* 15.2
China Southern 15.1
Air China 14.2
China Eastern 12
Singapore Airlines Group 10.8
Cathay Pacific * 10.6
LATAM Airlines 9.7
Turkish Airlines 9.6
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