Delta Airlines remains the world’s most popular carrier, according to the latest data released by IATA, an aviation trade group. Delta carried 129.4m passengers last year, putting it a nose ahead of second place Southwest. Only one of the world’s five largest carriers was not American—third-placed China Southern flew 100.7m people in 2014.
Yet, tellingly, on international routes just two American carriers squeaked into the top ten—United and Delta in ninth and tenth positions respectively. Both flew a fraction of the international passengers of the market leader, Ryanair, which hauled 86.4m people across national borders.
Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising. America is the world’s biggest domestic aviation market. What it does show, however, is how ridiculous it is for US carriers to whinge about competitors from other countries apparently receiving state aid—particularly supercarriers in the Middle East. After all, having their own domestic markets protected by the state is the primary reason that American airlines thrive. Ask United or Delta whether they would welcome competition on their JFK:LAX route from Emirates or Singapore Airlines. If they were being honest, they would admit that the last thing they want is a truly level playing field.
World’s largest airlines by passengers, 000
|1.||Delta Air Lines||129,433|
|3.||China Southern Airlines||100,683|
|7.||China Eastern Airlines||66,174|
World’s largest airlines by international passengers, 000
|10.||Delta Air Lines||24,243|