Revenue of airlines worldwide 2003-2020

This statistic represents worldwide revenue generated by commercial airlines from 2003 through 2020. Globally, commercial airlines are expected to generate combined revenue of around 872 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

Global commercial airlines revenue

In 2009, the commercial aviation industry entered a golden age. Between 2009 and 2017, revenue in the global aviation industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of around 5.9 percent, reaching 754 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. The sector’s improved financial performance is the result of a rising number of air cargo and passenger figures, which in turn are driven by a world that is increasingly becoming more and more affluent and interconnected.

The United States, Brazil, China and the European Union are ranked among the most important markets for air travel. The world’s busiest airports are Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (IATA: ATL), handling around 104 million passengers annually, and Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG), where about 4.9 million tons of freight is loaded and unloaded per year. In terms of revenue, the leading airlines worldwide include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Continental Holdings. The evolution of ancillary revenue streams and automated ticketing technologies, as well as the ongoing deregulation of civil aviation in many markets worldwide have given rise to the emergence of low-cost airlines. Ryanair - the Irish airline that may even be dubbed an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) - and Southwest Airlines are the main players in the low-cost category, which is attracting a growing customer base. In this segment, many carriers have taken to charging their customers for ancillary services to boost revenue. Low-cost carriers are so successful that upstart airlines such as WOW Air, La Compagnie or Norwegian are trying to enter the market.

Revenue of commercial airlines worldwide from 2003 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)*

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Release date

December 2019



Survey time period

2003 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* 2019 figure is an estimate.
** 2020 figure is a forecast.
Figures prior to 2014 taken from previous reports.

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