The airline industry, which weathered the storm of the pandemic, is now making a remarkable recovery, witnessing a substantial 30% increase in traffic and a notable 50% surge in revenue in the year 2022. Out of the 3 billion passengers who embarked on flights last year, a significant majority chose to fly with the industry’s major players.
According to visualcapitalist.com, these insights are drawn from the 2023 Allianz Partners Big Book of Travel Data by IdeaWorksCompany, offering a comprehensive view of the largest airlines based on passenger traffic.
The Top 20 Airlines By Traffic in 2022
At the top of the list, American Airlines flew nearly 200 million passengers in 2022. The airline’s most popular route was between Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX), operating more than 30 flights a day.
In fact, Dallas is a “fortress hub” for American, where the airline—along with its regional partners—own more than 70% of the airport’s flights.
Here’s a quick look at the other airlines and their annual passengers in 2022.
Close behind American is another U.S.-based rival, Delta, which got more than 170 million passengers to their destinations.
Ranked third is Ryanair Group, headquartered in Ireland, the most popular of the low-cost carriers (defined by their lower fares and no-frills service) which transported more than 168 million passengers around the world.
Rounding out the top five are two other U.S.-based airlines, United and Southwest, with annual passenger figures of 144.3 million and 126.6 million respectively.
Ranked: Top 20 Airlines By Revenue in 2022
Examining the same list of airlines by the most revenue earned over the year throws up a few interesting surprises.
American and Delta retain their top positions—earning $49 billion and $45 billion respectively—but Ryanair Group falls out of the top five to 12th place, having made $11.2 billion last year.
Other low-cost carriers—IndiGo from India and EasyJet from the UK—also slide down ranks, both pulling in about $7 billion in revenue.
Air Passenger Traffic by Region in 2022
Airlines with headquarters in Europe transported one-third of all air passengers in 2022, slightly ahead of their U.S.-based counterparts.
This was despite Russia’s Aeroflot losing both passengers and revenue between 2021–2022, as the airline was banned from entering the U.S., Canada, UK, and EU airspace.
Meanwhile, all four of China’s largest airlines also suffered traffic drops as the country grappled with residual effects of the pandemic, impacting Asia’s share of passengers.