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Low-cost carrier market worldwide - Statistics & Facts

Over the recent years, low-cost carriers (LCCs) demonstrated a strong market performance, adding a crucial market value in the aviation industry and satisfying customers’ preferences. LCCs’ business innovation to achieve high efficiency in terms of passenger load factor, competitive cost reduction and organizational structure fulfilled the market demand while creating distinctly affordable market possibilities for millions of travelers with a constrained budget. The annual growth rate in global air traffic increased with an exponential degree during the last decade. Since 2017, LCCs accounted for almost one third of the global air travel industry. Besides, the low-cost travel market size is forecasted to exceed 247 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. Major explanatory variables for this steady market expansion include increasing air passenger traffic and efficiency enhancing measures taken by the budget airlines.

On the regional distribution, the market share of low-cost carriers in Asia Pacific increased progressively during the last decade. In recent years, the active fleet size of low-cost carriers in Asia Pacific also suggests a similar tendency, surpassing the European and North American fleet size. The low-cost carrier market in North America remained rather stagnant due to the oligopoly of the more established major airlines like Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines in the region. On the other hand, the LCC market in Europe is more dynamic, meaning that many airlines are trying to enter the market while others are ceasing their operations but LCCs still hold a large share of the European market.

The leading two budget airlines worldwide, Ryanair and Southwest Airlines, transport over 200 million passengers combined. Since 2012, Irish-based Ryanair increased its annual revenue progressively from 4.9 billion euros in 2012 to 7.7 billion euros in 2019. The Dallas-based Southwest Airlines generates at least two times more in net profit than Ryanair. Although Ryanair and Southwest Airlines are market leaders in terms of size, they are not amongst the most punctual low cost carriers worldwide.

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Low-cost carrier market worldwide

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Regional focus: Europe

Regional focus: Americas

Regional focus: Asia Pacific


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