Top 10: Most Popular Airlines in Europe 2014

- Leadership - Oct 20, 2014

Air travel continues to be a growing market in Europe, with more business and leisure trips being made on planes than ever before. It has become an increasingly competitive market, especially with the rise of the budget airlines and availability of bargains bought in advance.

As the summer months move further into the distance, which airline companies have carried the most passengers in the year to date? All figures are accurate to the end of September unless stated otherwise.

#10 SAS Group – 21.09 million

(Includes Scandinavian Airlines, Blue1 and Widerøe)

The Swedish group of airlines has a relatively small fleet compared to other well-known European carriers, but still flies to 157 destinations and took well over 20 million passengers in the first nine months of this year. The Swedish government holds more than a fifth of shares in the company, which has a history dating back to 1951.

#9 Aeroflot Group/Russian Airlines – 23.23m

(Includes Donavia, Rossiya Airlines, SAT Airlines, Vladivostok Air and Orenair)

With figures only available until August, Aeroflot Group may well have leapfrogged Air Berlin Group into eighth place. As Russia’s leading carrier, Russian Airlines operates domestic and international services mainly from its base at Sheremetyevo International Airport. It has a fleet of 150 jets and flies to around 130 destinations worldwide.

#8 Air Berlin Group – 24.84m

(Includes Belair and Niki)

Germany’s second largest airline behind Lufthansa, serving 25 German cities with key hubs at Berlin-Tegel and Dusseldorf. The airline is a member of the Oneworld alliance and owns the subsdiarys NIKI in Austria and Belair in Switzerland. The brands between them have a fleet of 118 aircraft and covers more than 170 destinations.

#7 TUI Airlines – 33.7m

(Includes Arkefly, Corsair International, Jetairfly, Thomson Airways, TUIfly and TUIfly Nordic)

TUI’s 33.7 million represents total passengers carried in 2013 as monthly breakdowns to September 2014 were unavailable. TUI Travel owns eight European airlines making it the largest tourism group in Europe. The group airlines operate scheduled flights as well as charter flights to more than 150 destinations worldwide departing from more than 60 airports in nine European countries.

#6 Turkish Airlines – 41.4m

(Includes Anadolu Jet)

Turkey’s national flag carrier operates services to more than 40 domestic and 200 international airports in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas with its fleet 260+ aircraft. Last year the company took more than 18 billion Turkish lira in revenues.

#5 easyJet – 50.48m

Serving more than 600 routes in 32 countries, EasyJet is the largest airline of the UK and is based at London Luton Airport. Its 8,300 employees helped transport more than 50 million passengers in the first nine months of this year.

#4 International Airlines Group – 58.9m

(Includes British Airways, IBERIA and Vueling Airlines)

The British-Spanish airline holding company is best known for its British Airways and Iberia brands. The company took €18.7 million in revenues last year and has more than 60,000 employees across its network. British Airways has the largest fleet of any UK airline, with 290 planes travelling to more than 180 destinations. Iberia is a smaller carrier, operating around 70 aircraft.

#3 Air France-KLM – 58.35m

The Franco-Dutch holding company owns Air France and KLM along with their various subsidiaries. It is a huge earner, with sales of €25.63 billion in 2012, and a network of more than 100,000 employees. KLM and Air France merged in 2004, with the former flying to more than 130 destinations and the latter to 200+ locations.

#2 Ryanair – 65.54m

Europe’s most talked-about budget airline and one which keeps growing. Currently the Irish company operates around 300 Boeing aircraft and serves 28 countries in Europe with Morocco the first step into Africa. Recently CEO Michael O’Leary hinted at the idea of a Ryanaie Israel, which would serve cities across Europe.

#1 Lufthansa Group – 81.15m

(Includes Germanwings, Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines)  

Lufthansa is the German flag carrier and Europe’s largest airline both in terms of passengers carried and fleet size when combining all subsidiaries. The company owns more than 620 aircraft and services well over 200 destinations.

Last year revenues hit €30 billion however this year has not come without trouble, for prolonged periods of uncertainty over pilot satisfaction has led to routine strikes occurring through recent months.

READ MORE: Lufthansa Summer of Strikes: What Happens Next?

Despite this, the company is well on track to breach the 100 million passenger mark for this year and could well surpass the 104.6 million carried in 2013. The company has a rich history, its logo being designed all the way back in 1918. 

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