Passenger airlines in Europe - Statistics & Facts

The world’s first passenger airline services was started by an ancestor of modern-day British Airways, George Holt Thomas in 1920s in Europe. In the beginning, only available aircraft were produced initially for military purpose. Therefore, it was an arduous task for companies to transport people by air on transformed carriers. Yet, as many years have passed, this market expanded in size, creating a multitude of sub-markets within its structure to perform necessary services. Except for the year 2009, the global passenger air traffic demand increased steadily since 2006, becoming one of the largest markets in Europe.

From 2013 onwards, the passenger capacity change of commercial airlines in Europe increased with at least 3.4 percent. The request for more air travel of commercial airlines in Europe increased by at least 4.5 percent. This may indicate the demand-led growth in air traffic, implying companies responded to the further expanding needs of people to travel between 2013 and 2018. During the same period, the net profit of commercial airlines in Europe increased exponentially from one billion U.S. dollars in 2013 reaching 9.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

In 2018, the number of passengers carried by air in the European Union reached 1.1 billion people, up from 0.7 billion people in 2009. This growth indicates how rapid the aviation market increased in Europe. To capture revenue from the growing air travel market, a plethora of companies are racing in Europe to maximize their profits and market share. As of 2018, Lufthansa Group was the leading airline in Europe based on revenue. It is worth to mention that Lufthansa Group owns SWISS, Austrian Airways and Eurowings as its subsidiaries. When it comes to the passenger based market position, then Ryanair Group is the leading airline with a slight difference from Lufthansa Group in Europe as of 2019.

Despite temporary economic shocks such as the global financial crisis of 2008 or the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, the future of passenger aviation is obvious. As long as the desire of individuals to travel or market expansions of businesses will grow, the passenger aviation market is going to expand in response. From 2019 to 2038, it is forecasted that the estimated annual growth rates for passenger air traffic will be positive globally. Although a couple of decades ago the passenger aviation in Asia Pacific region was insignificant in size, by 2050 it is forecasted to become the largest market globally, surpassing European and North American flow of travelers.

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Passenger airlines in Europe

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