New analysis shows which airlines fly the most seats.

by Steve Creedy - editor
May 17, 2017

US carriers continue to dominate the world’s airlines when it comes to the number of seats available but Chinese and low-cost carriers are making their presence felt.

American Airlines had the most seats available in the 12 months to February this year, a whopping 250,762,625. This more than five times as many seats as Russia’s Aeroflot, the airline ranked last in the top 20 of a list compiled by route and schedule specialists OAG.

The US megacarrier was followed by Delta Air Lines (223,949,810 seats), Southwest Airlines (195,875,573) and United Airlines (177,028,403), according to the OAG analysis.

But Chinese carriers China Southern (115,763,222 seats) and China Eastern (109,950,331 ) were not far behind in sixth and seventh spots with low-cost carrier Ryanair (126,503,181 ) sandwiched between the US and Chinese airlines in fifth position.

Another low-cost carrier, EasyJet (82,644,804), ranked ninth after Turkish Airlines (84,318,540)  in eighth spot.

German carrier Lufthansa (82,636,538 seats) rounded out the top 10 followed by Air China (80,370,497) and South America’s LATAM (80,610,826).

The only entry in the top 20 by the Gulf states was Emirates (75,957,082 seats) at 13, followed by Japan’s All Nippon Airways (73,274,937) at 14 and British Airways at 15 (61,978,149).

Air Canada (58,144,941 seats) ranked 16th, with Air France (57,751,069), Japan Airlines (50,992,135), Indonesia’s Lion Air (48,557,485) and Russia’s Aeroflot (47,060,867) closing out the top 20.

Of course, statistics can be sliced and diced in a number of ways and the rankings changed when it came to passenger numbers.

United carried more passengers than Southwest over the 12 months and EasyJet outpaced Turkish Airlines.

Similarly, LATAM outpaced Air China, BA carried more passengers than ANA while both Aeroflot and Lion Air both beat Japan Airlines.

An explanation for this could be seen in another statistic, the average bookings load factor, which essentially divides bookings by the number of seats to give an indication of how full airlines fly their planes.

The LLCs unsurprisingly topped the field with Ryanair recording an average bookings load factor of 91 per cent and EasyJet at 85 percent.

United topped the legacy carriers at 84 per cent but American, Delta, Aeroflot and Air Canada all recorded load factors of 80 per cent or above.

The other airlines were in the seventies, with the exception of ANA at 64 per cent.