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World's largest airlines cautious with capacity. Some big moves in global airline rankings

6th August, 2012

Emirates is close to overtaking American Airlines and becoming the third largest airline by available seat kilometres (ASKs) after the Dubai-based carrier's massive 19% increase in capacity over the last year. Emirates' current capacity is close to 30% above levels of just two years ago, according to Innovata. Over the same period, American has cut capacity by about 8% while larger rivals United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have slashed ASKs by over 16%, according to Innovata. Interestingly, were American Airlines to combine with US Airways it would become the world's biggest airline - some 4% larger than Delta by ASKs based on Innovata capacity figures for Aug-2012.

The other big movers over the past two years include Ryanair, which has leapfrogged China Southern and US Airways into the Top 10, and Turkish Airlines, which has soared into 17th position (from 27th two summers ago) thanks to an astonishing 52% increase in ASKs. easyJet has also moved up several places to be just outside the Top 20, while Japan's ANA and JAL have fallen outside the top 20 grouping.

Innovata's top 25 airlines by capacity (ASKs per week): Aug-2010 vs Aug-2011 vs Aug-2012**

Airline Aug-10 Rank Aug-10 Aug-11 Rank Aug-11 Aug-12 Rank Aug-12 % change Aug-12 vs Aug-11 % change Aug-12 vs Aug-10 Change in Ranking Aug-12 vs Aug-10
United Airlines* 8,559,352,341 1 7,823,096,345 1 7,167,935,282 1 -8.4% -16.3% -
Delta Air Lines 8,169,938,414 2 7,214,639,449 2 6,816,158,460 2 -5.5% -16.6% -
American Airlines 5,456,733,975 3 5,182,443,553 3 4,999,932,364 3 -3.5% -8.4% -
Emirates 3,651,406,839 4 3,949,442,849 4 4,708,115,952 4 19.2% 28.9% -
Lufthansa 3,352,751,753 5 3,494,671,522 5 3,519,987,224 5 0.7% 5.0% -
Southwest Airlines 3,203,873,890 7 3,427,935,137 6 3,263,059,323 6 -4.8% 1.8% +1
British Airways 2,974,687,480 8 3,018,521,891 8 3,110,745,041 7 3.1% 4.6% +1
Air France 3,216,942,369 6 3,153,470,501 7 3,109,564,529 8 -1.4% -3.3% -2
Ryanair 2,293,470,161 12 2,566,164,727 9 2,777,322,555 9 8.2% 21.1% +3
China Southern 2,328,364,152 10 2,455,250,680 11 2,737,663,358 10 11.5% 17.6% -
US Airways 2,902,727,086 9 2,513,330,825 10 2,486,915,978 11 -1.1% -14.3% -2
Cathay Pacific 2,163,667,133 13 2,382,781,556 12 2,354,594,576 12 -1.2% 8.8% +1
Singapore Airlines 2,027,841,082 14 2,168,619,854 13 2,338,265,300 13 7.8% 15.3% +1
Air China 2,000,760,821 15 2,094,821,889 15 2,299,475,518 14 9.8% 14.9% +1
China Eastern 1,826,393,954 18 1,980,450,651 18 2,178,547,639 15 10.0% 19.3% +3
Air Canada 2,310,765,583 11 2,164,576,164 14 2,163,599,190 16 0.0% -6.4% -5
Turkish Airlines 1,317,478,574 27 1,666,417,743 21 2,006,574,707 17 20.4% 52.3% +10
KLM 1,850,286,108 17 1,863,509,317 17 1,870,175,205 18 0.4% 1.1% -1
Qantas Airways 1,896,273,618 16 1,929,095,763 16 1,833,146,749 19 -5.0% -3.3% -3
Korean Air Lines 1,756,322,565 19 1,748,858,381 19 1,741,101,566 20 -0.4% -0.9% -1
Qatar Airways 1,508,264,385 23 1,565,421,201 22 1,719,726,145 21 9.9% 14.0% +2
easyJet 1,416,411,155 26 1,472,242,060 26 1,669,888,075 22 13.4% 17.9% +4
All Nippon Airways 1,692,252,964 20 1,369,530,597 20 1,625,489,982 23 18.7% -3.9% -3
Thai Airways 1,500,229,220 23 1,560,646,594 23 1,564,880,751 24 0.3% 4.3% -1
TAM 1,428,600,698 25 1,467,480,423 25 1,429,608,088 25 -2.6% 0.1% -
GRAND TOTAL 70,805,796,320   70,233,419,671   71,492,473,557   1.8% 1.0%  

Southwest still the biggest LCC

Southwest Airlines remains the world's biggest LCC, despite a reduction in capacity this summer. The Top 5 LCCs remains unchanged, but big moves have occurred further down the list. India's IndiGo continues to soar up the rankings (its capacity has more than doubled over the past two years, according to Innovata), while Frontier continues its move in the other direction (its capacity is down almost 10% over Aug-2010, according to Innovata).

Innovata's top 25 LCCs worldwide by capacity (ASKs per week): Aug-2010 vs Aug-2011 vs Aug-2012*

Airline Aug-10 Aug-11 Ranking Aug-11 Aug-12 Ranking Aug-12 % Change Aug-12 vs Aug-11 % Change Aug-12 vs Aug-10 Change in Ranking Aug-12 vs Aug-11
Southwest Airlines 3,203,873,890 3,427,935,137 1 3,263,059,323 1 -4.8% 1.8% -
Ryanair 2,293,470,161 2,566,164,727 2 2,777,322,555 2 8.2% 21.1% -
easyJet 1,416,411,155 1,472,242,060 3 1,669,888,075 3 13.4% 17.9% -
JetBlue Airways 1,162,519,938 1,310,685,159 4 1,378,439,185 4 5.2% 18.6% -
Gol 908,891,466 953,587,455 5 861,903,276 5 -9.6% -5.2% -
WestJet 635,003,183 676,880,084 7 694,744,051 6 2.6% 9.4% +1
Jetstar Airways 543,667,800 664,219,245 8 681,563,443 7 2.6% 25.4% +1
Lion Airlines n/a 369,065,248 14 632,053,814 8 71.3% n/a +6
AirTran Airways 828,525,162 857,978,887 6 624,639,481 9 -27.2% -24.6% -3
Norwegian Air Shuttle 403,710,335 489,334,484 10 581,026,749 10 18.7% 43.9% -
AirAsia Berhad 431,440,954 458,817,923 11 526,606,679 11 14.8% 22.1% -
Condor 499,573,562 545,758,431 9 502,719,888 12 -7.9% 0.6% -3
Vueling Airlines 333,146,954 380,827,439 13 485,337,675 13 27.4% 45.7% -
Indigo 221,498,328 312,422,530 20 472,456,148 14 51.2% 113.3% +6
Virgin America 245,916,936 327,528,403 18 432,828,176 15 32.1% 76.0% +3
Wizz Air 323,664,506 361,922,797 15 404,522,841 16 11.8% 25.0% -1
Monarch Airlines 247,894,453 330,144,353 17 380,884,114 17 15.4% 53.6% -
Spirit Airlines 276,064,815 320,298,743 19 369,105,427 18 15.2% 33.7% +1
Pegasus Airlines n/a 333,447,550 16 362,194,504 19 8.6% n/a -3
Frontier Airlines 398,563,688 414,945,722 12 360,689,921 20 -13.1% -9.5% -8
Volaris 198,754,917 270,225,096 22 331,399,303 21 22.6% 66.7% +1
TUIfly 266,018,123 301,445,555 21 316,940,076 22 5.1% 19.1% -1
Jet2.com 216,204,854 265,225,241 23 312,101,855 23 17.7% 44.4% -
SpiceJet n/a 253,450,287 24 283,540,277 24 11.9% n/a -
Cebu Pacific n/a 231,829,196 25 258,948,889 25 11.7% n/a -
GRAND TOTAL   17,896,381,754   18,964,915,725   6.0%    

Capacity restraint this summer

Overall, the world's airlines are adding capacity cautiously, reflecting weak global economic conditions. According to Innovata, overall seating capacity is up approximately 3% year-on-year, with the number of flights rising just 1% and ASKs rising about 3%.

Worldwide capacity: Aug-2011 vs Aug-2012*

  Aug-2011 Aug-2012 % Change
Grand Total Flights per Week   617,591 625,218 1.2%
Grand Total Seats per Week 79,018,021 81,685,205 3.4%
Grand Total ASKs per Week 138,790,706,779 142,662,400,603 2.8%

Alliances strike back

Members of the world's global alliances are expanding capacity ahead of the global average, allowing the groupings to claw back share from the LCCs and unaligned carriers. According to Innovata, LCCs currently have a 23% share of global capacity (seats).

LCC vs Unaligned vs Alliances capacity and capacity shares (% of flights, seats and ASKs): Aug-2011 vs Aug-2012*

          % of Totals  
Alliance   Aug-11 Aug-12 % Change Aug-11 Aug-12 Variance
oneworld Flights per Week 57,522 63,027 9.6% 9.3% 10.1% 0.8%
  Seats per Week 8,083,471 9,022,204 11.6% 10.2% 11.0% 0.8%
  ASKs per Week 18,575,099,110 19,610,196,276 5.6% 13.4% 13.7% 0.4%
SkyTeam Alliance Flights per Week 96,654 100,040 3.5% 15.7% 16.0% 0.4%
  Seats per Week 12,659,507 13,644,764 7.8% 16.0% 16.7% 0.7%
  ASKs per Week 24,023,313,642 25,973,580,841 8.1% 17.3% 18.2% 0.9%
Star Alliance Flights per Week 149,896 153,467 2.4% 24.3% 24.5% 0.3%
  Seats per Week 18,259,377 19,018,275 4.2% 23.1% 23.3% 0.2%
  ASKs per Week 34,963,372,352 37,087,790,274 6.1% 25.2% 26.0% 0.8%
Low Cost Carriers Flights per Week 124,265 123,363 -0.7% 20.1% 19.7% -0.4%
  Seats per Week 18,484,727 18,759,664 1.5% 23.4% 23.0% -0.4%
  ASKs per Week 23,339,436,056 22,970,021,707 -1.6% 16.8% 16.1% -0.7%
Un-Aligned Carriers Flights per Week 189,254 185,321 -2.1% 30.6% 29.6% -1.0%
  Seats per Week 21,530,939 21,240,298 -1.3% 27.2% 26.0% -1.2%
  ASKs per Week 37,889,485,620 37,020,811,504 -2.3% 27.3% 25.9% -1.3%

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