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Ranked: Which Airlines Carried the Most Passengers in 2022?



A bar chart ranking the largest airlines by passengers in 2022.

Ranked: Which Airlines Carried the Most Passengers in 2022?

After being battered by the pandemic, the airline industry is on the upswing, with traffic growing 30% and revenue surging 50% year-on-year in 2022.

And of the 3 billion passengers who took a flight last year, more than half flew on one of the big players in the industry. We use information from 2023 Allianz Partners Big Book of Travel Data by IdeaWorksCompany to visualize the largest airlines by traffic.

The Top 20 Airlines By Traffic in 2022

At the top of the list, American Airlines flew nearly 200 million passengers in 2022. The airline’s most popular route was between Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX), operating more than 30 flights a day.

In fact, Dallas is a “fortress hub” for American, where the airline—along with its regional partners—own more than 70% of the airport’s flights.

Here’s a quick look at the other airlines and their annual passengers in 2022.

RankAirlineHeadquarteredAnnual Passengers
1American Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.199.3M
2Delta Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.171.4M
3Ryanair Group*🇮🇪 Ireland168.6M
4United Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.144.3M
5Southwest Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.126.6M
6Lufthansa Group🇩🇪 Germany101.8M
7International Airlines Group (IAG)🇬🇧 UK94.7M
8IndiGo*🇮🇳 India85.3M
9Turkish Airlines Group🇹🇷 Türkiye71.8M
10easyJet**🇬🇧 UK69.7M
11Air France / KLM Group🇫🇷 France65.0M
12China Southern Group🇨🇳 China62.6M
13LATAM Group🇨🇱 Chile62.4M
14Wizz Air*🇭🇺 Hungary51.1M
15Emirates Airline*🇦🇪 UAE43.6M
16China Eastern Group🇨🇳 China42.5M
17Alaska Air Group🇺🇸 U.S.41.5M
18Aeroflot Group🇷🇺 Russia40.7M
19JetBlue Airways🇺🇸 U.S.39.6M
20ANA Group*🇯🇵 Japan38.7M

*Financial year for these airlines ended in March, 2023. **Financial year for this airline ended in September 2022.

Close behind American is another U.S.-based rival, Delta, which got more than 170 million passengers to their destinations.

Ranked third is Ryanair Group, headquartered in Ireland, the most popular of the low-cost carriers (defined by their lower fares and no-frills service) which transported more than 168 million passengers around the world.

Rounding out the top five are two other U.S.-based airlines, United and Southwest, with annual passenger figures of 144.3 million and 126.6 million respectively.

Ranked: Top 20 Airlines By Revenue in 2022

Examining the same list of airlines by the most revenue earned over the year throws up a few interesting surprises.

RankAirlineHeadquarteredAnnual Revenue
(USD Billions)
1American Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.$49.0
2Delta Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.$45.6
3United Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.$45.0
4Emirates Airline*🇦🇪 UAE$29.2
5Air France / KLM Group🇫🇷 France$27.5
6Lufthansa Group🇩🇪 Germany$26.9
7International Airlines Group (IAG)🇬🇧 UK$24.0
8Southwest Airlines🇺🇸 U.S.$23.8
9Turkish Airlines Group🇹🇷 Türkiye $18.4
10China Southern Group🇨🇳 China$13.0
11ANA Group*🇯🇵 Japan$12.6
12Ryanair Group*🇮🇪 Ireland$11.2
13Alaska Air Group🇺🇸 U.S.$9.7
14LATAM Group🇨🇱 Chile$9.4
15JetBlue Airways🇺🇸 U.S.$9.2
16Aeroflot Group🇷🇺 Russia$7.7
17IndiGo*🇮🇳 India$7.1
18easyJet**🇬🇧 UK$7.0
19China Eastern Group🇨🇳 China$6.9
20Wizz Air*🇭🇺 Hungary$4.1

*Financial year for these airlines ended in March, 2023. **Financial year for this airline ended in September 2022.

American and Delta retain their top positions—earning $49 billion and $45 billion respectively—but Ryanair Group falls out of the top five to 12th place, having made $11.2 billion last year.

Other low-cost carriers—IndiGo from India and EasyJet from the UK—also slide down ranks, both pulling in about $7 billion in revenue.

Air Passenger Traffic by Region in 2022

Airlines with headquarters in Europe transported one-third of all air passengers in 2022, slightly ahead of their U.S.-based counterparts.

RegionPassenger Share (2022)
U.S. & Canada29.7%
Asia & South Pacific 23.3%
Latin America9.2%
Middle East & Africa6.4%

This was despite Russia’s Aeroflot losing both passengers and revenue between 2021–2022, as the airline was banned from entering the U.S., Canada, UK, and EU airspace.

Meanwhile, all four of China’s largest airlines also suffered traffic drops as the country grappled with residual effects of the pandemic, impacting Asia’s share of passengers.

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Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. Dollar Since the 19th Century

This animated graphic shows the U.S. dollar, the world’s primary reserve currency, as a share of foreign reserves since 1900.



Visualizing the Rise and Fall) of the U.S. Dollar

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. Dollar Since the 19th Century

As the world’s reserve currency, the U.S. dollar made up 58.4% of foreign reserves held by central banks in 2022, falling near 25-year lows.

Today, emerging countries are slowly decoupling from the greenback, with foreign reserves shifting to currencies like the Chinese yuan.

At the same time, the steep appreciation of the U.S. dollar is leading countries to sell their U.S. foreign reserves to help prop up their currencies, in turn buying currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars to help generate higher yields.

The above animated graphic from James Eagle shows the rapid ascent of the U.S. dollar over the last century, and its gradual decline in recent years.

Dollar Dominance: A Brief History

In 1944, the U.S. dollar became the world’s reserve currency under the Bretton Woods Agreement. Over the first half of the century, the U.S. ran budget surpluses while increasing trade and economic ties with war-torn countries, expanding its influence as the world’s store of value.

Later through the 1960s, the U.S. dollar share of global foreign reserves rapidly increased as political allies stockpiled the dollar.

By 2000, dollar dominance hit a peak of 71% of global reserves. With the creation of the European Union a year earlier, countries such as China began increasing the share of euros in reserves. Between 2000 and 2005, the share of the dollar in China’s foreign exchange reserves fell by an estimated 15 percentage points.

The dollar began a long rally after the global financial crisis, which drove central banks to cut their dollar reserves to help bolster their currencies.

Fast-forward to today, and dollar reserves have fallen roughly 13 percentage points from their historical peak.

The State of the World’s Reserve Currency

In 2022, 16% of Russia’s export transactions were in yuan, up from almost nothing before the war. Brazil and Argentina have also begun adopting the Chinese currency for trade or reserve purposes. Still, the U.S. dollar makes up 80% of Brazil’s reserves.

Yet while the U.S. dollar has decreased in share of foreign reserves, it still has an immense influence in the world economy.

The majority of trade is invoiced in the U.S. dollar globally, a trend that has stayed fairly consistent over many decades. Between 1999-2019, 74% of trade in Asia was invoiced in dollars and in the Americas, it made up 96% of all invoicing.

Furthermore, almost 90% of foreign exchange transactions involve the U.S. dollar thanks to its liquidity.

However, countries are increasingly finding alternative options than the dollar. Today, Western businesses have begun settling trade with China in renminbi. Looking further ahead, digital currencies could provide options that don’t include the U.S. dollar.

Even more so, if the U.S. share of global GDP continues to shrink, the shift to a multipolar system could progress over this century.

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