For almost every airline, 2020 has been the most devastating year in terms of financial results. So we wanted to know the details and analyzed the financial results of 15 of the world’s biggest airlines. Here are the results.

Airline Financial Results

Due to Corona’s impact, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years for airlines ever. Logically, only a few airlines managed to close the year with positive financial results. When going through the annual results of hundreds of airlines, we identified only four airlines with positive results (Check out the entire article about “4 Airlines That Made Profit in 2020“):

  • Korean Air
  • China Airlines
  • Bamboo Airways
  • Ethiopian Airlines

However, we also wanted to know how the big players performed. In that context, the question isn’t “did they make a loss,” but “how high was the loss?” Here’s what’s contained in this blog post:

Contents
U.S. Carriers With Highest Losses
IAG Reports Highest Losses in Europe
Negative Financial Results for Asia’s Top Airlines
Airlines’ Financial Results — The Complete Overview

U.S. Carriers With Highest Losses

AirlineCountryOperating Results 2020 ($ bil.)
American AirlinesUnited States-11,453
United AirlinesUnited States -8,822
Delta Air LinesUnited States-6,839
SouthwestUnited States-4,256
JetBlueUnited States-1,893
Financial Results — U.S. Airlines

U.S airlines seem to be among the airlines that return to pre-COVID traffic levels quickly. However, when looking at 2020’s financial results, the big U.S. carriers lead the list of top losers. American Airlines reported a record loss of almost USD 11.5 billion and therefore ranked first among the airlines with the highest losses. American’s big competitor United ranked 2nd with a loss of USD 8.8 billion. 

Compared to those record losses, other U.S. carriers achieved moderate results. For example, Alaska Airlines reported operating losses of USD 1.75 billion, similar to JetBlue’s 1.89 billion. 

Delta Air Lines managed an operating loss of USD 6.8 billion, and Southwest reported USD 4.23 billion.

American Airlines Records a loss of USD 11,453 billion!

IAG Reports Highest Losses in Europe

AirlineCountryOperating Results 2020 ($ bil.)
IAGUnited Kingdom-8,500
Lufthansa GroupGermany-2,115
Air France / KLMFrance– 1,689
Turkish AirlinesTurkey-0,926
Financial Results — European Airlines

Compared to excessive operating losses of some U.S. carriers, most European airlines reported slightly better financial results. However, marginally better still means that all analyzed airlines reported multiple million and billions of negative financial results. 

Turkish Airlines performed best and are one of the rare bigger airlines with a negative financial result below the billion marks. Air France/KLM and the Lufthansa Group showed similar results with operating losses of USD 2.06 billion, respectively USD 2.58 billion. 

IAG, the holding company of British Airways, Iberia, and some other airlines, reported a record loss of USD 8.5 billion. Accordingly, IAG’s financial results turned out to be among the top 3 worst results (behind American Airlines and United Airlines).

British Airways’ holding company IAG reports a loss of USD 8,5 billion

Negative Financial Results for Asia’s Top Airlines

AirlineCountryOperating Results 2020 ($ bil.)
Japan AirlinesJapan-3,600
China Eastern AirlinesChina-2,588
Air ChinaChina-2,482
Singapore AirlinesSingapore-2,100
China Southern AirlinesChina-1,862
Korean AirSouth Korea+0,219
Financial Results — Asian Airlines

Besides Korean Air and Bamboo Airways, Asia’s airlines had to record negative financial results too. However, Korean Air managed to close the year with a positive financial result of USD 219 million. On the contrary, China’s “big three” closed 2020 with billions of losses. China Southern performed best with a loss of USD 1,86 billion, followed by Air China (2.48 billion) and China Eastern (2.58 billion). 

Outside of China, Japan Airlines (negatively) stands out with another record loss of USD 3.6 billion. Singapore’s flag carrier, Singapore Airlines, ended the year with an operating loss of USD 2.1 billion.


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Airlines’ Financial Results — The Complete Overview

Finally, here’s the complete of the presented airlines.

AirlineCountryOperating Results 2020 ($ bil.)
American AirlinesUnited States-11,453
United AirlinesUnited States -8,822
IAGUnited Kingdom-8,500
Delta Air LinesUnited States-6,839
SouthwestUnited States-4,256
Japan AirlinesJapan-3,600
China Eastern AirlinesChina-2,588
Air ChinaChina-2,482
Lufthansa GroupGermany-2,115
Singapore AirlinesSingapore-2,100
JetBlueUnited States-1,893
China Southern AirlinesChina-1,862
Alaska AirlinesUnited States-1,753
Air France / KLMFrance– 1,689
Turkish AirlinesTurkey-0,926
Korean AirSouth Korea+0,219

What’s Your Opinion?

We are always happy to receive your feedback. Leave us a comment or get in touch with the author on social media.

Data Sources
JetBlue, Lufthansa, Alaska Air, Turkish Airlines, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Southwest, China Southern, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines

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CEO

Benjamin is a content-maniac, music-lover, aviation-enthusiast, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions to change the way airlines, airports, and aviators use information. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry and working with renowned airlines + airports worldwide.

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