What are Europe’s biggest airlines? We decided to take a look.
There are several data sets that could be used to rank them. Among the options: revenue, fleet size, passengers flown and carrying capacity. We opted for the latter, going with a ranking based on “available seat miles” (ASMs). ASMs are a standard industry measure that calculates an airline’s carrying capacity by multiplying its number of available seats by the number of miles they fly.
With the help of trade publication Airline Weekly and its analysis of Diio Mi data, we came up with rankings for Europe’s 30-biggest airlines as measured by ASMs for the 12-month period running from July 2017 through June 2018. At the top was German carrier Lufthansa, followed by British Airways and Ryanair.
It’s important to note that each of the different data sets creates variations in the rankings. Budget carrier Ryanair, for example, would jump to No. 1 if ranking the airlines by fleet size or by total available seats.
While no individual data set gives the “correct” answer, we liked ASMs as a way to balance the scale of global airlines with long international routes against budget airlines that fly many flights, but on shorter routes.
Check out the above slide to see the full list, beginning at No. 30 LOT Polish Airlines and running through to Lufthansa at No. 1.
- Carriers were ranked as standalone brands and not as part of broader airline “groups.” For example, the Lufthansa Group includes several subsidiaries, including distinct major brands like Austrian, Swiss and Brussels airlines. Each of those units was ranked separately, as was the stand-alone German unit Lufthansa.
- Other airline groups – such as IAG and its British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling subsidiaries – were ranked the same way. On the flip side, Norwegian Air was counted as a single brand, even though its European and long-haul subsidiaries hold separate operating certificates.
- Airlines based in countries that span both Asia and Europe have been included in the European rankings. That includes Turkish Airlines and Russia’s S7 Airlines, which operates a hub in Moscow but is headquartered in Russia’s Asian territory.
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