As 2023 comes to an end, many airlines are trying to operate as many fleets as possible to fly to hundreds of destinations worldwide. So, which airlines are doing really well at that?
This article answers this question and more; it takes a detailed look at the top 10 largest airlines in the world.
What Metrics Does this Ranking Take into Account?
The airline’s total number of aircraft represents its capacity and reach. In other words, the largest airlines are the ones with the biggest number of fleets. Because they can serve more routes, fly more frequently, transport more passengers and cargo, and generate higher revenues. Thus, fleet size is the best metric of an airline’s ranking.
The Top 10 Largest Airlines in 2023
American Airlines – 948 Aircraft
American Airlines is at the top of this world’s largest airlines. It has a massive fleet of over 1528 planes. Its fleet includes a mix of Airbus, Boeing and Embraer models. It also:
- Serves over 350 destinations in 50+ countries.
- Operates over 6,700 daily flights.
- Carries 200+ million passengers annually.
- Global revenue of $29.9 billion (2022).
- Employs 123,400 people.
- Has the largest fleet of active Boeing 737s (958 aircraft) and Airbus A320 family jets (282 aircraft).
- Its hub airports include Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte, and Chicago O’Hare.
American airlines continuously modernizes its fleet by adding new models like the Airbus A321neo.
Delta Air Lines – 915 Aircraft
Delta Air Lines takes the second spot in the largest airlines list, with a fleet of 915 aircraft. It:
- Serves over 300 destinations worldwide.
- Flies 5,400+ daily flights.
- Carries over 160 million passengers annually.
- $29.9 billion in annual revenue (2022).
- Employs approximately 83,000 people.
- Major hubs are Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul.
- Operates one of the most diverse fleets: Boeing 717, 737, 757, 767 jets as well as Airbus A220, A320, A330, A350 models.
- Sets to add new Airbus A220 and A321neo aircraft.
United Airlines – 891 Aircraft
The third largest airlines fleet belongs to United Airlines. It:
- Serves over 320 airports across 5 continents.
- Carries over 160 million passengers annually.
- Operates 4,900 flights daily in peak season.
- $24.6 billion in annual revenue (2022).
- Employs over 93,000 staff.
- Its hubs include Chicago, Houston, Newark/New York.
- Dominated by Boeing models like the 737, 757, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner.
- Operates Airbus A320 family aircraft.
- Has orders for new Boeing 787-10 and 737 MAX jets.
Southwest Airlines – 792 Aircraft
Southwest Airlines takes fourth place with 792 Boeing 737 aircraft. It:
- Runs over 4,000 daily flights.
- Serves 109 destinations across North America.
- Carried 130+ million passengers (2021).
- $15.8 billion in annual revenue (2021).
- Employs around 62,000 people.
- Major hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston.
- As a low-cost carrier, Southwest solely operates 737-700, -800 and MAX 8 variants.
- It follows a point-to-point route system and has orders for more efficient 737-7 and 737-8 models.
FedEx Express – 723 Aircraft
The cargo giant FedEx Express comes next with 723 aircraft, one of the world’s largest cargo fleets. it:
- World’s largest cargo airline.
- Connects over 220 countries and territories globally.
- Headquartered in Memphis with 18+ major hubs worldwide.
- Runs over 650 daily flights.
- $22.7 billion in annual revenue (FY2023).
- Employs around 230,000 staff.
- The FedEx fleet includes Boeing 767-300Fs, 777Fs and smaller turboprop planes.
- It recently ordered 50 new ATR 72-600F aircraft.
Lufthansa Group – 710 Aircraft
The Lufthansa Group takes sixth place with a combined fleet size of 710 aircraft. It:
- Serves 210 destinations in 83 countries.
- Headquarters and main hub located in Frankfurt.
- Carries over 47 million passengers annually.
- Operates around 3,600 weekly flights.
- $22.5 billion in annual revenue (2021).
- Employs 107,000+ staff globally.
- Diverse short-haul and long-haul fleet.
- It flies Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer jets.
- It is upgrading its fleet by adding new 787s and A350s.
China Southern Airlines – 653 Aircraft
China Southern Airlines holds the fifth spot in the largest airlines list with 653 aircraft. It:
- Is the largest airline in Asia by fleet size.
- Serves 193 destinations in 40 countries/regions.
- Operates over 3,000 daily flights.
- Carries 100+ million passengers annually.
- $17.5 billion in annual revenue (2021).
- Employs 80,000+ people.
- Its hubs located in Beijing, Guangzhou, Urumqi.
- Comprises Airbus, Boeing, and COMAC planes including A380s.
- Has over 300 aircraft orders to support rapid expansion.
Emirates – 262 Aircraft
Emirates takes the eighth spot in the largest airlines list, with 262 passenger jets. It:
- Is flag carrier and largest airline of the UAE.
- Flies to 150+ cities across 80 countries weekly.
- Operates 11 cargo aircraft.
- $16.1 billion in annual revenue (2022).
- Employs around 105,730 people.
- Operates the world’s largest 777 and A380 fleets.
- Its mainline jets are exclusively wide-body aircraft.
Qantas Airways – 236 Aircraft
Qantas Airways comes next in the largest airlines list with 236 total aircraft. It:
- Is the flag carrier and largest airline of Australia.
- Serves over 50 domestic airports and 30 international destinations.
- Operates 4,000 flights per week.
- $14.12 billion in annual revenue (2022).
- Employs around 29,000 staff.
- Qantas operates Airbus A330s, A380s, Boeing 737s and 787 Dreamliners.
- Its fleet is constantly modernizing with new plane orders.
Air France – 210 Aircraft
Finally, Air France rounds out the top 10 in this largest airlines list, with a fleet size of 210 aircraft. It:
- Is the flag carrier and largest airline of France.
- Serves 36 domestic and 175 international destinations.
- Flies an average of 335 daily departures from Paris.
- $11.89 billion in annual revenue (2022).
- Employs over 84,000 staff members.
- Main hub is at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
- Operates a diverse fleet of Airbus and Boeing jets.
- Its subsidiaries include Hop and Transavia France.