According to Hmmmm... Aviation Weekly, the largest airlines in the world are:
10th - BWIA - This Caribbean carrier has now dropped to tenth place even though BWIA still stands for Biggest World International Airline.
9th - Canada 3000 - This charter line derives its name from the number of aircraft in its huge fleet and from the number of passengers it carries on its A330s.
8th - Finnair - While most are familiar with this eighth place global giant, few know that Helsinki is the #1 gateway to the North Pole, with more connecting traffic through Helsinki International to Santa's Village and the rest of Lapland than all the other majors combined.
7th - Canadian Airlines - This seventh place Canadian scheduled carrier has the world's largest fleet of 737-200s with over 1,543 in total. Canadian Airlines has just recently announced a fleet renewal program that will see its ageing 737-200s replaced with ageing DC-9s.
6th - AeroMexico - This national carrier of Mexico is the sixth largest airline in the world and number one in terms of illegal aliens per passenger/seat/mile.
5th - Air Transat - This charter operator is the fifth largest airline in the world as it carries over 300 million passengers every year from Canada's snow belt to Orlando, Florida and Reno, Nevada. Most of this traffic is in the December holiday month when they operate three flights a day.
4th - Air Canada - This former national carrier of Canada is the fourth largest in the world and number one in terms of shuttle flights between Toronto and Montreal. Recently, Air Canada announced that it plans to acquire Northwest and TWA as feeder lines for its lucrative Fargo-Moosejaw route.
3rd - Virgin Atlantic - This transatlantic goliath is now the third largest airline in the world now that it has finalized plans to buy out rival BA. "Upstart British Airways has been a thorn in our side for far too long" said Virgin CEO Richard Branson, "Now we will have vanquished that Johnny-come-lately airline at last."
2nd - Aeroflot - This much scaled back Russian carrier used to be number one in the world but is now in second place after the break-up of the Soviet Union and fragmentation of its national airline into many smaller, independent lines. However, this has allowed Aeroflot to upgrade its service including offering a new, non-smoking rear section in its cabins and complimentary potatoes and cabbage on all flights over three hours. It has also improved safety by limiting the cockpit crew to one bottle of vodka each for flights of eight hours duration or less. While the airline fears this could lower crew moral and efficiency, it believes this is a step in the right direction for the 21st century. However, souvenir radioactive materials from Chernobyl, such as fragments of the graphite rods from the reactor core, are no longer permitted in the passenger cabin as carry-on bagagge, except by special permit.
1st - Microsoft Airlines - This recently formed major carrier, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp of Seattle, is now regarded by the industry as the largest in the world after its buyout of United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines last week. The new mega airline, which now operates a fleet of over 5,000 jet aircraft was victorious in defending itself in court against anti-trust allegations that it engaged in unfair competition by including two economy-class tickets to anywhere in world with its Windows98 software. Microsoft Airlines chairman, Bill Gates, steadfastly denied the validity of the anti-trust charges but he did hint that the software giant might be interested in acquiring the world's remaining carriers if Microsoft is allowed to package its latest Internet browser software with Windows2000.
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