Leading airlines worldwide - based on total number of passengers 2018

Leading airline groups worldwide in 2018, based on passengers (in millions)

by E. Mazareanu, last edited Jul 22, 2019
Leading airlines worldwide - based on total number of passengers 2018 This statistic depicts the leading airline groups worldwide in 2018, based on passenger traffic. In that year, the ranking was dominated by U.S.-based airlines: American Airlines topped the list, with 203.7 million passengers.
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 2017, Chinese tourists spent a staggering 258 billion US dollars during their holidays outside their home country. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Summer Games being held in Brazil, Latin America experienced an enormous influx of international visitors. Many airports, including Brazil’s largest airport São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport (IATA: GRU), underwent major expansions and optimizations in order to serve the millions of visitors who converged 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 business people alike, and airlines around the world are keen to improve service quality and customer satisfaction. In U.S., in 2018, the rate of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers dropped to 2.84 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, 0.05 percent of passengers were denied boarding in 2018, while some 0.15 percent of passengers were not allowed on the flight - despite holding confirmed reservations - in 1993.
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Leading airline groups worldwide in 2018, based on passengers (in millions)

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