Global air traffic - number of flights 2004-2021

The number of flights performed globally by the airline industry increased steadily since the early 2000’s and reached 38.9 million in 2019.

The global airline industry

The airline industry includes companies that provide domestic and international air transport services for both passengers and freight. This means the overall number of flights worldwide is higher than the above number suggests. Some freight companies own and operate a private aircraft fleet, such as FedEx who maintain over 650 aircraft. The above figure also excludes military flights, and flights associated with the space industry (for example satellite launches).

Drivers of growth

The industry’s recent growth can be attributed to a combination of increasing living standards and decreasing costs of air travel. While North American and European airlines currently dominate in terms of both revenue and passengers flown, it is predicted that future growth will be highest in the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America and Asia. This is due not only to economic development, but also the expected increase in the working-age population of many countries in these regions.

Number of flights performed by the global airline industry from 2004 to 2021

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

2004 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* This figure was taken from a previous edition which was released prior to the coronavirus outbreak and can be accessed here.
** Forecast
Figures prior to 2015 were taken from previous reports.

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