Who rules the skies? The Top 8 Biggest Airlines in Europe

Today, there are around 8 times as many air passengers compared to 40 years ago, that's an increase of 700%! While the air travel industry has boomed, airlines have followed suit. Reaping the benefits of a exponential flow of air traffic. In this article we are going to list the top 8 biggest european airlines! As well as providing a brief insight into the airline using their number of passengers, planes and on time flights. As well as some good ol’ fun facts!


The most important fact is that if you were flying from the European Union with any of these airlines and your flight has been delayed or cancelled. You may be entitled to receive compensation. This is also the case if you were flying back to the EU with a European carrier. You can submit your claim with Flight-Delayed and we will make the whole process as simple as possible. Find out if you are entitled to compensation here:


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Number 8 - Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA

Starting off our list is Norwegian Air! This low cost airline began in 1993, and prides itself on using high-fuel efficiency airplanes which are not only good for the environment, but also your bank account!

Norwegian Biggest Airline in Europe

Country: Norway

Number of Passengers: 29.4 million

Number of Planes: 102

Flights on time: 60.59%

Fun fact: Norwegian Air have special ‘tail fin art’ on their aircrafts that are dedicated to certain heroes. The image below shows their Freddy Mercury (lead singer of Queen) edition.


Number 7 - Aeroflot Group (Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines, Pobeda)

Coming in at number 7 on our list is Aeroflot.This airline has a rich and exciting history, operating since 1923! The Airline has been through it all, and was previously the soviet national airline (the largest in the world). Despite high levels of crashes in the 70s, Aeroflot is now one of the safest airlines in the world.

Aeroflot is one of the biggest airlines in Europe

Country​: Russia

Number of Passengers: 43.4 million

Number of Planes: 239

Flights​ on time: 79.01%

Fun fact: Aeroflot used to operate passenger concorde flights in 1977, however after some unfortunate accidents the airline used concordes solely for cargo until 1983.


Number 6 - Turkish Airlines

Snatching up our number 6 spot is Turkish Airlines. With Istanbul Airport as its base, this airline is situated perfectly to fly passengers all over the world. Beginning in 1933, this airline continues to grow in size each year.

Biggest Airlines in Europe Turkish Airlines

Country​: Turkey

Number​ of Passengers: 62.8 million

Number​ of Planes: 335

Flights​ on time: 72.03%

Fun fact: Turkish airlines is the world’s most international airline, with destinations in 106 different countries!


Number 5 - EasyJet

Clinching the number 5 spot on our list is EasyJet. This low cost airline operates many cheap flights across Europe. Based largely in the UK, EasyJet has become a popular choice for cheap flights into continental europe.

One of the biggest airlines in Europe: easyJet

Country​: United Kingdom, Switzerland

Number of Passengers: 74.5 million

Number of Planes: 226

Flights​ on time: 85.61%

Fun fact: In a year, easyJet sells just under 2 million bacon baguettes on board their flights. If laid out end to end, the baguettes would stretch from Venice to Vienna!


Number 4 - Air France-KLM

Sliding into our list at number 4.The first Airline in the top half of our list is Air France-KLM. After a merger between Air France and KLM in 2004, this airline now operates out of two major hubs at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

KLM and Air France are one of the biggest airlines in Europe

Country​: France, Netherlands

Number of Passengers: 93.4 million

Number of Planes: 574

Flights​ on time: 83.19%

Fun fact: In 2017, members of an Air France flight were detained in Buenos Aires for 6 hours after the daughter of the former deputy minister of Justice was unhappy that she did not receive an upgrade!


Number 3 - IAG (British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus, LEVEL)

Taking the bronze medal position on our lists non-existent podium is IAG. IAG stands for International Airlines group and represents a merger between several prominent Airlines during the last 10 years. Particularly popular in the UK and Spain, this airline definitely has earned its place.

IAG group is the 3rd biggest airline in Europe

Country​: United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland

Number of Passengers: 100.7 million

Number of Planes: 520

Flights on time: 85.35%

Fun fact:In the unlikely event of a passenger dying on board, British Airways used to disguise the death from other passengers using sunglasses, a vodka and tonic, and a copy of the Daily Mail!


Number 2 - Ryanair

Ryanair has built up a reputation as the go to budget airline for cheap flights, and that reputation has definitely helped elevate the airline into the number 2 spot on our list. Although often shrouded with controversy, this airline has expanded hugely since its creation in 1984.

Ryanair is the 2nd biggest airline in Europe

Country​: Ireland

Number of Passengers: 109.7 million

Number of Planes: 319

Flights on time: 77.76%

Fun fact: In July 2010, Ryanair announced plans for standing seats on their aircrafts. These low comfort seats were set to top the charts for cheap flights at just £4, until the plans were dropped.


Number 1 - Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines)


Topping our list, officially the biggest European airline in 2017 is the Lufthansa group! Topping the tables in terms of passengers carried and fleet size, the Lufthansa group is definitely a flying force to be reckoned with!

Lufthansa is the biggest airline in Europe

Country​: Germany, Switzerland, Austria

Number of Passengers: 116.8 million

Number​ of Planes: 602

Flights on time: 83.01%

Fun fact: Lufthansa is Europe’s largest airline. But it was also the first airline to offer in flight internet for its passengers in 2004!


As the great spiderman quote goes: 'With great power, comes great responsibility'. Sadly, despite their huge commercial success, many of these airlines still fail to follow EU regulations with regards to compensating their customers for delays. At Flightdelayed.co.uk our mission is to help delayed passengers and ensure they are treated fairly by their airlines, even taking legal action when necessary. If you have been delayed you can use our free flight checker to work out if you can make a claim with us! (You will not be charged if your claim is unsuccessful).




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