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The World's Biggest Airline

Wed Sep 29, 1999 11:19 pm

What is really the world's biggest airline? I am a bit confused because some sources say that Delta is the biggest airline, while others claim that United and American are the biggest.
MD 11
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RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Wed Sep 29, 1999 11:26 pm

I think, if you simply count the passenger-figures, Delta-Airlines are on top!(Then United, then AA)
When you count the number of planes, then I think, it´s AA.
And if you count the volume of sales, it is AA, too, I think.
(But especially in the last point, I´m not quiet sure).
So it depends what you count to say, what is the biggest airline.

What If You Discount The Domestic Fleet?

Wed Sep 29, 1999 11:35 pm

which would be the largest international airline then?
MD 11
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RE: What If You Discount The Domestic Fleet?

Wed Sep 29, 1999 11:42 pm

The largest international Airline would be British Airways, they have the most international destinations, but Lufthansa and Air France are close to them.(Especially LH).

RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 12:33 am

Here are the largest airlines in some different categories. United, as the leader in Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs), is generally accepted as the largest.

RPMs: United, then American
Revenue: United, then American
Profit: American, then Delta
Passengers: Delta, then United
Fleet: American (648), then Delta (583)

As you can see, the same three airlines show up again and again, so it's pretty clear that by any measure these are the three largest.

As for foreign airlines (non-US):

RPMs: British Airways, the JAL
Revenue: British Airways, then Lufthansa
Profit: British Airways, then Lufthansa
Fleet: British Airways, then Lufthansa

RE: What If You Discount The Domestic Fleet?

Thu Sep 30, 1999 4:56 am

It isn't fair to discount domestic service because the US is so much larger than any other country that a Boston-LAX flight is the equivalent of a transcontinental one, and therefore should be considered just as 'prestigious.' United is widely accepted as the world's largest airline by every major publication (Airways, Airliners,, with American second and Delta 3rd.


Thu Sep 30, 1999 5:12 am

Did somebody in a previous post discount transcon US flights or say that they were less prestigious than international ones? I think I missed something here...
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RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 5:38 am

For years, United called themselves "The largest airline in the free world" in commericals. Note how they said FREE world, still acknowledging that Aeroflot was by far the largest with thousands of planes, at the time, it was still USSR. Now UA is the biggest. Fleetwise, they have 585, two more than Delta's 583!

Boston Logan

Thu Sep 30, 1999 5:46 am

Prestigious? I am sorry but East-West coast routes are obviously being served bu US carriers and the flight experience is anything but prestigious....

RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 6:02 am

I may be wrong about this but, I think the reason Aeroflot claimed to be the "world's largest airline" during most of the cold war era was that they included ALL of their military and goverment a/c as "Aeroflot"! If we took American's numbers and added the entire Air Force,Navy air ops.,Coast Guard and Border Patrol airplanes,helicopters,support equipment, etc. etc...That would be one hell of a big airline!...:-0 FernAAndo

RE: The World's Biggest Airline - N777UA

Thu Sep 30, 1999 8:20 am

As of the end of 1998, Delta's fleet consisted of 583 aircraft, while United's had 569, or 14 fewer than Delta. Through acquisitions and retirements, both airlines have changed fleet size by now. While I don't know the exact count at either airline as of today, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported in their Aerospace Resource Book that Delta's was to remain larger than United's fleet, ending 1999 with a planned 590, versus United's planned 587.
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Thu Sep 30, 1999 8:39 am

Man...have you been flyin' SW across the country? Most trans-con flights (at least on UA and AA) have the same service procedures, standards, and high quality of meals as their int'l flights!

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To Purdue Cadet

Thu Sep 30, 1999 9:40 am

Correct on most counts..Except aircraft..UA has more aircraft than DL..Its only by a few but UA has 592 aircraft with another 7 coming this year..This does not include the 3 747-100's just retired this month..

So AA has largest fleet followed by UA then DL..
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RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 10:35 am

I believe by revenue the top five airlines are as follows:
1. AMR (not just American, but American Eagle and Business Express)
2. United Air Lines
3. British Airways Group
4. Delta Air Lines
5. Lufthansa Gruppe

I got this information from a Flight International magazine from late August. The cover story is the Top 50 Airlines. If I had it in front of me now I'd give statistics to back up my claims, but this is the truth, you can check it out if you are so inclined, I believe it is the 20 Aug issue.

« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 1:57 pm

The figures that I've quoted under this topic, including the fleet counts, come from tne Aviation Week & Space Technology 1999 Aeorspace Resource Book. Their accuracy is predicated on the accuracy of that publication's reporting, but I can say that I, along with many aviation professions, give the AW&ST name some credibility. There may be slight variations from their forecast 1999 year end figures, however, due to an airline retiring more or fewer aircraft than they anticipated. It is also possible that an airline would take more aircraft than anticipated, as American Eagle will do because of newly acquired Business Express delivery slots, but this is very rare as delivery slots do not normally just become available. In any even, the fleet sizes of United and Delta are very close, and they both trail American by a considerable margin.

RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Thu Sep 30, 1999 5:36 pm

the largest airiline in terms of fleet size is United. the largest international carrier i believe is British Airways.

Which One Owns The Most Expensive Fleet

Thu Sep 30, 1999 5:57 pm

i like to ask if anyone knows...which are the airlines that have the most number of more advanced, larger (like widebodies), better performance aircrafts. I feel that an airline winning the honor of largest fleet may not quite deserve that maybe because most of their aircrafts can be the smaller ones like Fokkers, MD80s, 737s etc contributing to the quantity.

RE: The More Expensive Fleet

Thu Sep 30, 1999 6:06 pm

To answer my own question... i feel that SQ is among those airlines. They have so many expensive planes 777s, 340s, plus they once had the largest 747-400 fleet. They even fly regional destinations with these aircrafts... anyone disagrees?
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RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Fri Oct 01, 1999 2:05 am

what was the largest airline? It at one pointin time was Aeroflot!! I had such a lagre route network and many aircraft. to be exact I am not to sure mabye iluyshin96 could help out there. But even today Aeroflot still has one of the largest Networks in regards to destinations.

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RE: Aeroflot - Airman99o

Fri Oct 01, 1999 2:34 am

Aeroflot was, at one time, considered the world's largest airline. They were the only airline serving destinations within the Soviet Union, and their fleet was comprised of hundreds of planes, from AN-2 biplanes to IL86 widebodies. Now, since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot is no longer in existence as it once was. The only airline using that title is the international directorate, Aeroflot - Russian International Airlines. Their fleet is about 100 or so planes at this time, serving almost exclusively international destinations, but still maintaining some routes within Russia. Airlines serving domestic destinations may use former Aeroflot planes which are not re-painted, but the airlines themselves have different names.
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United Has The Most Widebodies

Fri Oct 01, 1999 8:28 am

United has the most widebodies, and they will still have the most coming into the future. By 2002, they will have 61 777s, 44 747-400s, and 56 767s. That's 161 widebodies, which I believe is more than the number of planes in TWA's whole FLEET.
no wire hangers!

RE: The World's Biggest Airline

Fri Oct 01, 1999 10:11 am

While that is a lot of wide bodies, it is not larger than TWA's entire fleet... TWA had 185 aircraft at the end of 1998 and planned on having 190 as of the end of 1999.
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Lets Just Use The Industry Standard

Fri Oct 01, 1999 12:52 pm

Lets just use what the airline industry uses..Its Revenue Passenger Miles..

With this in mind..

Its UA 1, AA 2 and DL 3...Period..Even with AA's purchase of Reno...

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