This article is an overview of the top worldwide airlines, covering the main areas of operations, fleet size, etc. The role of air transport is a small proportion of freight transport. Air cargo represents no more than 0.5 of the weight of all international cargo, and around 30 percent of the total global shipment value. Air transport is an expensive transport mode, but usually the fastest and competitive one to cover medium or long distances.
A common air cargo supply chain consists of Shipping, Forwarding out, Air Transport, Forwarding in, and Consignment.
According to FIATA, air cargo forwarders are the main and important customers for airlines. Forwarders process over 80 percent of international air cargo consignments.
We can see some figures of the top airlines, measuring performance in fleet age, number of aircraft and freight tonne kilometers (FTKs).
The top global airlines are listed below.
Emirates is a leading global airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and was established in 1985. Emirates is a subsidiary of the Emirates Group. Its hub is at Dubai International Airport and is the largest airline in the Middle East. It operates around 3,400 flights a week in more than 133 cities around the world in 74 countries.
Emirates operates cargo service through the Group Emirates SkyCargo.
Emirates SkyCargo has a fleet of more than 230 aircraft and is one of the youngest aircraft, which serves 147 destinations in 81 countries on six continents.
Emirates SkyCargo in 2014-15 carried a new record 2.4 million tonnes of cargo.
FedEx Express is a global leader and handles the largest aircraft fleet in the world. It started to operate in 1973 and today is the world’s largest express transportation company due to its air route authorities and transportation infrastructure together with its leading-edge information technologies. It provides fast services for more than 3.6 million shipments each business day, to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx’s headquarter is in Brussels, Belgium.
FedEx Express Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa (EMEA) serves hundreds of cities around the world and is the biggest hub outside of the US at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. FedEx air operations serves 45 airports and its vehicle fleet is around 3,696.
United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is one of the largest express carriers and package delivery company in the world and was founded in 1907. UPS is also a leading provider of specialised transportation, logistics, capital, and e-commerce services. It provides services to more than 200 countries and territories over the world. UPS’s headquarter is in Atlanta, USA, and it employs over 435,000 people worldwide.
UPS has around 9.8 million daily customers and its daily delivery volume is 18.0 million packages and documents.
UPS Air Hubs are at United States: Louisville, KY (Main Global Air Hub); Philadelphia, PA; Dallas, TX; Ontario, CA; Rockford, IL; Columbia, SC; Europe: Cologne/Bonn, Germany; Asia Pacific: Shanghai; Shenzhen; Hong Kong China; Latin America and Caribbean: Miami, FL; and Canada: Hamilton, Ontario.
Korean Air is a leading global carrier and it was established in 1969 with the privatisation by the Hanjin Group. Korean Air’s headquarter is in 260 Hanuel-gil, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, Korea 157-712.
Its areas of business are passenger, cargo, aerospace, catering, and in-flights sales.
Korean Air company owns 153 aircrafts and operates scheduled flights to 128 cities in 45 countries around the world, including 12 cities in Korea. Its hub is at Incheon International Airport(ICN) – Incheon, Korea.
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay Pacific is the largest Chinese airline and was founded in 1946. Its headquarter is in Hong Kong and its hub is at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific’s operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 188 destinations in 51 countries and territories around the world. Its fleet consists of 146 wide-body aircraft and employs 23,000 people worldwide and with its subsidiaries employs a total of 33,000 people.
China Airlines is one of the largest airlines in China, and was founded in 1959. Its headquarter is in Taiwan and its hubs are Taoyuan International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport. China Airlines serves in 115 destinations in 29 countries and regions and employs 11,850 people, including 9,833 employees in Taiwan.
China Airlines has offices in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, North America, Oceania, Mainland China, Northeast Asia, Europe and Middle East.
Singapore Airlines is the flag carrier of Singapore and was founded in 1972. Singapore Airlines headquarter is in Singapore and its hub is at Changi Airport, and its service has strong presence in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and Oceania. It has a modern fleet of 105 aircraft with an average age of seven years and one month, making it one of the world’s youngest.
Singapore Airlines serves in more than 64 destinations around the world.
Qatar Airways is the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar and was founded in 1993. Its headquarter is in Qatar and its hub is at Hamad International Airport. This airline’s network provides a global service in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, South East Asia and North Asia.
Qatar Airways Cargo delivers to over 145 destinations worldwide on over 160 aircraft including Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 freighters.
Qatar Airways Group employs more than 31,000 people around the world.
Lufthansa Cargo is one of the world’s leading cargo carriers and is a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. It was founded in 1994 and Deutsche Lufthansa AG was founded in 1926. This airline serves around 300 destinations in more than 100 countries, and its hub is in Frankfurt.
Lufthansa Cargo employs more than 4,500 people worldwide. Its main fleet consists of sixteen MD-11F three-engine wide-body long-haul aircraft, and it also uses passenger aircraft for freight transport. It has a total of 350 passenger aircraft, sixteen MD-11F and five B777F.
Lufthansa Cargo network covers more than 300 destinations in around 100 countries.
Asiana Airlines Inc. is one of South Korea’s major airlines and was established in 1988. Its headquarter is in Seoul and its hubs are Seoul Gimpo International Airport and Seoul Incheon International Airport. Asiana Airlines routes are 10 domestic and 10 International passenger routes, and 90 International Cargo routes through Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania, with a fleet of over 84 aircraft.
This airline employs more than 10,183 people around the world.
Lan Cargo and its subsidiaries BSA in Brazil, MAS AIR in Mexico and Linea Aerea Carguera de Colombia in Colombia are the largest air cargo operators in Latin America. Lan Airlines was founded in 1929 as LAN Chile. Its headquarter is in Santiago, Chile, and its hub is at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago.
Lan Cargo and its affiliates have one of the youngest fleets of cargo aircraft with 12 cargo aircraft, as well as the passenger aircraft. Its cargo network covers South America, North and Central America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
Lan Cargo service covers around 144 destinations in 24 countries with a fleet of 318 aircraft.
LATAM Airlines Group S.A. is the new name given to LAN Airlines S.A. as a result of its association with TAM S.A. LATAM Airlines Group S.A. which now includes LAN Airlines and its affiliates in South America, as well as LAN Cargo and its affiliates.
LATAM Airlines Group employs around 53,000 people.
Etihad Airways is a flag carrier and one of the largest airlines of the United Arab Emirates, and was established in 2003. Etihad Cargo was founded in 2004 as a division of Etihad Airways. Its hub is at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and its headquarter is in Abu Dhabi too.
Etihad Cargo Network covers Americas, Europe, GCC, Indian Sub-continent, Middle East and Africa, Northern Asia Pacific, and Southern Asia Pacific.
Etihad Cargo operates a fleet of nine cargo aircraft that fly on scheduled services to 24 of the airline’s passenger destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Etihad Airways employs more than 17,712 employees around the world.
EVA Air is an international airline based in Taiwan and was founded in 1989. EVA Air was established by the shipping line Evergreen Group and in the cargo area works with Evergreen Marine. This airline operates passenger and cargo service through its network from Asia and China to Europe, North America and Oceania, linking more than 60 cities.
EVA Air has a fleet of more than 50 aircraft.
British Airways (BA) is a global flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom and was established in 1974. It is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and destinations. Its headquarter is in Waterside and its hubs are at London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
BA is the largest operator of Boeing 747-400s aircraft, with more than 57. Its total fleet consists of 282 aircraft.
BA’s destinations covers 179 total destinations, including 84 European destinations, 86 rest of the world destinations, and 9 UK destinations.
British Airways carries more than 40 million customers a year, and employs around 40,000 employees.
Cargolux is one the Europe’s biggest all-cargo airline and was founded in 1970. Its headquarter is in Luxembourg and its hub is at Luxembourg Findel Airport in Sandweiler, Luxembourg.
Cargolux network covers 90 destinations around the world and has more than 85 offices in over 50 countries.
This airline has a fleet of total 21 aircraft, including Boeing 747-400 and 747-8 freighters.
Cargolux employs more than 1,606 employees around the world.
Thai Airways International
Thai Airways International Public Co. is a public national enterprise in Thailand. It is registered in the Securities Exchange of Thailand since 1991. Its headquarter is in Bangkok and its hub is at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Thai airline serves around 78 destinations in more than 35 countries, using a fleet of more than 80 aircraft. Its network has a strong presence in Europe, East Asia, and South and Southwest Asia, and five cities in Oceania.
Thai Airways has a fleet of a total 82 aircraft and it employs more than 25,323 people.
All Nippon Airways
All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) is a Japanese airline and was founded in 1952 as a Japan Helicopter and Aeroplane. Its headquarter is located in Tokyo and its hubs are at Haneda International Airport and Narita International Airport.
ANA operates in 18 international routes and 6 domestic routes and has a fleet of eleven Boeing 767-300 freighter aircraft.
All Nippon Airways domestic network covers Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa and its international network goes through China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, United States and Western Europe.
ANA airline has a fleet that consists of a total of 234 aircraft.
Air France is a flag carrier in France and was founded in 1933. Its headquarter is based in Paris and its hubs are at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris Orly Airport. Air France is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group.
Air France serves around 36 destinations in France and over 168 destinations worldwide in more than 93 countries, operating passenger and cargo services.The airline has offices worldwide in New York, United States, and in Plesman House and Hatton Cross, United Kingdom.
Air France has a fleet of a total of 236 aircraft and employs more than 69,553 employees around the world.