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Spotlight on Asia: Top 10 Biggest Asian Airlines By Fleet Size

With today's blog post, we take a look at the Asian airline market. First, we went through the latest fleet figures and compiled the top 10 biggest Asian airlines' fleet sizes.

Top 10 Biggest Asian Airlines

There are many metrics to define the world’s biggest airlines. With some of our latest rankings, we’ve analyzed the world’s airlines according to their safety performanceproduct quality, or capacity. Today, we take a look at the fleet size. However, we move away from global statistics and take an Asian deep-dive. Moreover, and contrary to many other rankings, we incorporated Corona-related reductions. Therefore, our ranking contains the most up-to-date fleet figures.

Top 10 Biggest Asian Airlines — Key Take Aways

If you don’t have time to go through the complete ranking, we put together some key takeaways about the 10 biggest Asian airlines.

6 out of 10 biggest Asian airlines are from China
Unsurprisingly, and in line with previous reports, it turned out the Chinese airlines play a big role in Asia’s biggest airlines. Overall, six out of the ten biggest airlines are based in China. Moreover, with China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China, the top three biggest Asian carriers are based in China.

India adds only one airline to the list of Asia’s biggest airlines
Despite being the world’s second-largest country population-wise, India adds only one airline to the biggest Asian airlines. IndiGo, an Indian low-cost carrier, ranks 4th.

Many countries are not represented.
When compiling the data, we expected to see a more diverse picture in terms of countries. Nevertheless, it turned out that airlines from four different countries (only) form Asia’s top 10 biggest airlines: China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Airlines from countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, or Thailand didn’t make it into the top 10.

Top 10 Biggest Asian Airlines

#10 — Korean Air

Biggest Asian Airlines — Korean Air

Korean Air is the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea. The airline operates out of its hubs in Incheon and Gimpo and flies to more than 120 destinations worldwide. Korean Air is part of the Oneworld airline alliance and commenced operations in 1962. The airline operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing.

A Korean Air Boeing 737-900 on approach.
By Maarten Visser from Capelle aan den IJssel, Nederland – HL7724 B737-900 Korean Air, CC BY-SA 2.0

#9 — Japan Airlines

Biggest Asian Airlines — Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines is one of Japan’s biggest airlines and the country’s flag carrier. The airline is headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo, and operates out of its main hubs in Tokyo (Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport), Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, and Itami Airport. As part of the Oneworld airline alliance, Japan Airlines flies to almost 100 destinations — mainly across Asia, North America, and Europe. The most significant part of JAL’s fleet is compiled out of Boeing airbus, enriched with some additional Airbus aircraft.

A Boeing 747-400 aircraft in mid-air, with blue sky in the background
Japan Airlines Aircraft

#8 — Cathay Pacific

Biggest Asian Airlines —  Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong’s flag carrier with its head office and hub based in Hong Kong. Cathay operates a fleet of more than 150 aircraft consisting of Airbus A320, A321, A330, A350, and Boeing B777. As one of Asia’s largest airlines, Cathay Pacific flies to 82 destinations across the globe.

File:B-KPM Cathay Pacific.jpg
Cathay Pacific — Source: Wikimedia


#7 — Shenzhen Airlines

Biggest Asian Airlines — Shenzhen Airlines

Shenzhen is a China-based airline headquartered in Shenzhen. As part of the Star Alliance, Shenzhen Airlines is one of two Chinese airlines that is part of a global network. The carrier was founded in 1992 and operated out of its hub in Shenzhen. The carrier operates 137 domestic airport pairs involving 58 Chinese airports, plus nine international routes. Shenzhen Airlines operates a mixed aircraft fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

By bye angel from Tsingtao, China – B-5771 | Shenzhen Airlines | Boeing 737-87L(WL) | PEK, CC BY-SA 2.0

#6 — Hainan Airlines

Biggest Asian Airlines —  Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines was founded in 1989 and is one of China’s largest airlines. With an aircraft fleet of 220 planes, the airline operates from its hubs in Beijing, Haikou, Xi’an, and Shenzhen. Hainan Airlines has its headquarters in Haikou and operates flights to 110 destinations in Asia, Europe, and North America.

File:Airbus A350-941, Hainan Airlines JP9095347.jpg
Hainan Airlines Aircraft, Source: Wikipedia

Top 10 Biggest Asian Airlines: Position 5 – 1

#5 — All Nippon Airways

Biggest Asian Airlines —  All Nippon Airlines

All Nippon Airways (also known as ANA) is Japan’s largest airline by revenues, passenger numbers, and fleet size. The airline was founded in 1952 and is headquartered in Tokyo. As part of the Star Alliance, the Japanese airline flies to 97 destinations — mainly in Asia, North America, and Europe. ANA operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

By Hans135797531 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

#4 — IndiGo

Biggest Asian Airlines —  Indigo

IndiGo is an Indian low-cost airline headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. It is the largest airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size, with a 59.24% domestic market share as of August 2020. It is also the largest individual Asian low-cost carrier in terms of jet fleet size and passengers carried. The sixth-largest carrier in Asia with over 64 million passengers carried in the financial year 2018–19. The airline operates 1,500 flights every day to 87 destinations – 63 domestic and 24 international.

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada – IndiGo Airbus A320neo F-WWDG (to VT-ITI), CC BY-SA 2.0

#3 — Air China

Biggest Asian Airlines —  Air China

Air China is considered as one of the “Big Three” Chinese airlines. The airline operates a fleet of 450 aircraft and transported more than 100 million passengers in pre-COVID time. Air China flies to more than 200 destinations out of its hubs in Beijing and Chengdu and has 50,000 employees.

File:B-2485 - Air China - Boeing 747-89L - PEK (17038275979).jpg
Air China aircraft, Source: Wikipedia

#2 — China Eastern Airlines

Biggest Asian Airlines —  China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern is another airline of China’s “Big Three.” The airline has its headquarters in Changning and operates flights from its hubs in Shanghai, Beijing, Kunming, and Xi’an. The mega carrier has a fleet of 580 aircraft and flies to almost 250 destinations. China Eastern is a SkyTeam member and has 80,000 employees.

File:China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800; B-5493@HKG;04.08.2011 615rm (6207496947).jpg
China Eastern aircraft, Source: Wikipedia

#1 — China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines

Besides Air China and China Eastern, China Southern is the third of China’s “Big Three” airlines. China Southern has its headquarters in Guangzhou and operates out of its hubs in Beijing and Guangzhou. The airline has more than 620 aircraft and flies to more than 200 destinations. Almost 100,000 employees are responsible for 2,000 daily flights to destinations all over the world.

File:China Southern Airlines B787-9 (B-1128)(30423833267).jpg
China Southern aircraft, Source: Wikipedia

Biggest Asian Airlines — What’s Your Opinion?

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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