11 Surprising Things I Learned About the World’s Airlines Today

Many of things I probably knew and yet digging through data still found them surprising.

  1. American Airlines has the second most aircraft on order (still!) of any airline in the world, behind only Indonesian low cost carrier Lion Air’s crazy order book of 433 planes compared to a current fleet of just over 100.

  2. Two of American’s three heaviest passenger routes are based at New York LaGuardia: New York LaGuardia – Chicago O’Hare and Miami.

    New York LaGuardia

  3. American has a greater share of capacity at their Dallas and Charlotte hubs than Delta has in Atlanta, Detroit, or Minneapolis.

  4. Delta’s average fleet age is over 17 years old.

  5. Southwest Airlines now has more seat capacity than United Airlines. So by one measure is now the third largest airline in the world. For the 12 months ended February Southwest is less than a million passengers carried per year behind United. And they’ve got just 11 fewer planes than United, too.

    Southwest Airlines Snack Basket

  6. The four largest airlines in the world by seat capacity are all based in the U.S. That’s been the result of significant industry consolidation over the past decade.

  7. Ryanair is the largest airline in Europe by seat capacity. They operate nearly twice as many routes as Southwest (and more than American or Delta).

  8. China Southern has the most seats on offer of any airline in Asia. Their focus is mostly domestic, carrying more than 4500 passengers a day between Guangzhou and Beijing on average (more than twice as many as Delta flies between Atlanta and New York LaGuardia).

  9. Turkish Airlines flies to 117 countries. (Air France serves the second-most countries at 90, and is followed by British Airways, Lufthansa, and then United at 70.)

    British Airways

  10. Lufthansa and Air France shrank year-over-year.


  11. 80% of Japan Airlines seat capacity is domestic.

Source: OAG

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So LH and AF shrank, and they’re the two airlines with probably the most strikes that we hear about. Coincidence?

  2. Gary, growing up in Indonesia, I am amazed by what Lion Air is doing. At one point, they announced the largest aircraft order ever from Boeing. Less than 2 years later, they broke their own record by making a large purchase from Airbus. They came out of nowhere, literally. What’s perplexing is their operational record is so bad. There are too many stories about operational fusterclucks, and I experienced one personally. But still, at the bigger scheme of thing, considering what they have been doing, it is nothing short of amazing.

  3. Gary the Turkish airlines statistic is fascinating, many thanks for sharing. I really had no idea!

  4. Turkish is highly rated and frequently is cheaper than competitors ($800 rt SFO-TLV). Perhaps that’s why IST is on the laptop list ban! Too competitive for the US airlines.

  5. more than twice as many as Delta flies between Atlanta and New York LaGuardia

    Doesn’t Delta fly to JFK, not LaGuardia?

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