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Emirates remains one of the world’s top 10 airlines by passenger traffic

Emirates remains one of the world’s top 10 airlines by passenger traffic

Emirates remains one of the world’s top 10 airlines by passenger traffic, carrying more than 19 million passengers in 2021.

The Dubai airline ranks seventh as aviation analytics firm Cirium revealed its 2021 World Airline Passenger Rankings.
Emirates flew 19.6 million people around the world last year. That’s an increase of 199 per cent compared to passenger levels in 2020, when travel disruption because of the Covid-19 pandemic was at its highest.

The rankings are dominated by airlines from the US, with American Airlines taking the top spot, followed by Delta, United and Southwest as measured in revenue per kilometres.
This is calculated by multiplying the number of revenue paying passengers aboard an aircraft by the distance the aircraft travelled.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair ranks in fifth, while China Southern slipped to take one spot ahead of Emirates.


Based on tracking more than 600 operators via Cirium’s airline database, the ranking shows that despite an improvement since 2020, world traffic ended 2021 down by 57 per cent against its pre-pandemic peak with a global figure of 2.3 billion.

Compared to passenger numbers in 2019, Emirates recorded a drop of 65 per cent from its 2019 peak.
Top 10 World Airline Passenger Rankings for 2021
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines
Southwest Airlines
China Southern
Emirates Airline
Qatar Airways
China Eastern Airlines
Turkish Airlines
Qatar Airways also retained its position in the top 10 airlines by passenger traffic. The gap between Emirates and the Doha airline narrowed in 2021, with the latter ranking just behind Dubai’s largest carrier in eighth place. In 2019, the airline listed six places behind Emirates.

China Eastern Airlines and Turkish Airlines round out the top 10 ranking.

Despite slipping from fourth position to seventh, Emirates ranking in the world’s top 10 list is impressive given that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been worst in the Middle East.

“The main standout was among Middle-Eastern carriers who saw 80 per cent of traffic disappear from their long-haul, and often highly connected networks. Elsewhere traffic declines were grouped around the 60-70 per cent mark,” says Kevin O’Toole, chief strategy officer at Cirium.