United Airlines, following its merger with Continental, has ended 2012 as the world's biggest airline measured by available seat kilometres for the current week, ahead of second placed Delta, whose capacity fell 0.3% year on year, according to Innovata. Fast growing Dubai-based carrier Emirates is the world's third biggest airline by this measure, and could be in second place by the end of 2013 if the past year's growth rates are maintained.
Southwest Airlines remains easily the largest LCC, while Lion Air and Jetstar have each climbed the LCC top 10, to sixth and seventh places respectively, overtaking Westjet. Atlanta Airport (just) remains the world's largest, ahead of Beijing Capital Airport, in terms of seat throughput for the week, but this ranking seems certain to reverse in 2013.
The biggest movers in the overall World Top 50 list include Turkish Airlines, which jumped seven places to rank 15th globally, while Indonesian carrier Lion Air vaulted eight places to enter the global Top 40 for the first time. Iberia and India's Jet Airways fell four and seven places in the 2012 rankings, respectively.
World's top 50 airlines by capacity (ASKs per week): Dec-2012 vs Dec-2011**
|Airline||Dec-11||Dec-12||% change||Global rank||Ranking|
|Delta Air Lines||5,659,984,201||5,643,676,049||-0.3%||1||2||-1|
|Korean Air Lines||1,699,049,358||1,734,522,605||2.1%||17||19||-2|
|All Nippon Airways||1,246,645,650||1,549,773,945||24.3%||25||22||+3|
|Air New Zealand||727,101,490||710,174,817||-2.3%||42||43||-1|
Southwest Airlines remains the world's biggest LCC and has widened the gap to second placed Ryanair thanks to the latter's marked reduction in capacity this winter. Adding in AirTran's capacity would push Southwest even further ahead.
The Top Five LCC rankings remain unchanged, but big moves have occurred further down the list. India's IndiGo and US-based Spirit continue to rise up the board, while AirAsia X has dropped back as it redirected capacity from long-haul European sectors to shorter Asian routes.
Europe's Vueling has grown a remarkable 40% measured in ASKs, with IndiGo and Lion Air each expanding 35%.
Top 25 LCCs worldwide by capacity (ASKs per week): Dec-2012 vs Dec-2011
|Airline||Dec-11||Dec-12||% Change||Global rank||Ranking|
|AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd.||367,668,226||306,214,544||-16.7%||13||20||-7|
|Cebu Pacific Air||262,579,589||285,040,540||8.6%||21||21||-|
The big get bigger, as the Top 50 airlines double the total growth rate, as capacity is added cautiously
Overall, the world's airlines are adding capacity cautiously, reflecting weak global economic conditions. According to Innovata, overall seating capacity is up approximately 3.2% year-on-year, with the number of flights rising just 0.4% and ASKs rising about 3%.
The Top 50 carriers are, as a group, adding capacity at more than twice the rate of the industry combined.
Worldwide capacity: Dec-2011 vs Dec-2012*
|Grand Total Flights per Week||571,757||574,210||0.4%|
|Grand Total Seats per Week||72,647,903||74,960,633||3.2%|
|Grand Total ASKs per Week||125,720,984,416||129,461,649,199||3.0%|
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 22.3% share of global capacity (seats).
This is partly due to the addition of new members, but that does not account for the full expansion. SkyTeam has grown its market share at a greater rate on all measures than the still much bigger Star Alliance.
LCC vs Unaligned vs Alliances capacity and capacity shares (% of flights, seats and ASKs): Dec-2011 vs Dec-2012*
|% of Totals|
|oneworld||Flights per Week||56,246||60,019||6.7%||9.8%||10.5%||0.6%|
|Seats per Week||7,903,764||8,532,194||8.0%||10.9%||11.4%||0.5%|
|ASKs per Week||17,992,906,169||18,616,703,665||3.5%||14.3%||14.4%||0.1%|
|SkyTeam Alliance||Flights per Week||88,271||97,130||10.0%||15.4%||16.9%||1.5%|
|Seats per Week||11,654,726||13,137,996||12.7%||16.0%||17.5%||1.5%|
|ASKs per Week||22,046,322,002||24,293,888,517||10.2%||17.5%||18.8%||1.2%|
|Star Alliance||Flights per Week||140,825||148,010||5.1%||24.6%||25.8%||1.1%|
|Seats per Week||17,162,375||18,430,756||7.4%||23.6%||24.6%||1.0%|
|ASKs per Week||32,634,023,803||34,677,013,562||6.3%||26.0%||26.8%||0.8%|
|Low Cost Carriers||Flights per Week||112,199||108,814||-3.0%||19.6%||19.0%||-0.7%|
|Seats per Week||16,656,834||16,739,379||0.5%||22.9%||22.3%||-0.6%|
|ASKs per Week||20,027,733,542||19,969,692,726||-0.3%||15.9%||15.4%||-0.5%|
|Un-Aligned carriers||Flights per Week||174,216||160,237||-8.0%||30.5%||27.9%||-2.6%|
|Seats per Week||19,270,204||18,120,308||-6.0%||26.5%||24.2%||-2.4%|
|ASKs per Week||33,019,998,900||31,904,350,729||-3.4%||26.3%||24.6%||-1.6%|
Atlanta Airport still the world's biggest – just! – as Beijing closes rapidly
Atlanta has seen out 2012 as the world's busiest airport, but it looks set to lose that title to Beijing Capital Airport in 2013. Singapore Changi Airport has entered the Top 10 by seats per week, helped in no small part by the growth in LCC operations. 30% of all airline seats in Singapore are on LCCs, with Tiger Airways, Jetstar and AirAsia three of the five biggest. The airport this week has announced it registered more than 50 million passenger movements for the year, just two years after crossing the 40-million milestone in 2010. Dubai Airport meanwhile has surged into fifth place on the world rankings as measured by total seats this week.
Top 50 Airports, ranked by seats per week*