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Spotlight on North America: Top 10 Biggest American Airlines By Fleet Size

North America is one of the world's biggest aviation markets. With the third part of our "Spotlight Series," we take a very close view of the North American market: The Top 10 Biggest North American Airlines by fleet size.

The “Spotlight Series” is a series of blogs that presents airline and airport rankings for specific regions. The Top 10 Biggest North American Airlines is the third edition of the “Spotlight Series.” Here are the other issues:

Top 10 Biggest North American 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. First, however, we move away from global statistics and take a North America 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 North American Airlines — Key Take-Aways

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

U.S. Airlines dominate
Obviously, the U.S. is one of the world’s biggest aviation markets. Subsequently, seven out of ten airlines on the list of North American biggest airlines are from the United States of America.

The “Big Four”
North America’s four biggest airlines (Southwest, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines) are the world’s biggest airlines at the same time. Moreover, United Airlines and American Airlines are the only airlines operating a fleet bigger than 800 aircraft.

Top 10 Biggest North American Airlines

#10 — Aeroméxico

Airline Ranking
Mexico’s flag carrier, Aeroméxico, kicks off the list of North American’s biggest airlines. The airline operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft. Moreover, it’s the only carrier on the list that isn’t located in the U.S. or Canada. However, based on its fleet size, Aeroméxico isn’t ranked among the world’s top 50 biggest airlines.

Biggest North American Airlines — Aeromexico

Airline Information
Founded in 1934, Aeromexico is the flag carrier of Mexico. Today, the airline operates flights to almost 90 destinations in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. Aeromexico operates a Boeing fleet of 60 aircraft consisting of B737 (700, 800, Max 8, and Max 9) and 787 (-8 and -9). The airline has more than 13,000 employees.

By John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex – N961AM21042014LHR, CC BY-SA 2.0

#9 — Spirit Airlines

Airline Ranking
Spirit Airlines is the first of seven U.S. airlines contained in the list of the top 10 largest North American airlines. Spirit operates a fleet of more than 150 aircraft. From a global perspective, Spirit is currently the 30th biggest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — Spirit Airlines

Airline Information
Spirit Airlines is a U.S. ultra-low-cost airline headquartered in Florida. Spirit operates scheduled flights throughout the United States and in the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline was founded in 1983 and flies to 83 destinations. Spirit’s fleet consists of Airbus 319, 320, and 321 aircraft.

By Adam Moreira (AEMoreira042281) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

#8 — Air Canada

Airline Ranking
Air Canada is one of two Canadian airlines in the list of the top 10 North American airlines. The Canadian flag carrier operates a fleet of 163 aircraft. Moreover, Air Canada makes it to the world’s top 30 and is listed as the world’s 29th largest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — Air Canada

Airline Background
Air Canada is the flag carrier and one of Canada’s largest airlines. The airline was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in Montreal. As part of the StarAlliance airline alliance, Air Canada operates flights to 166 destinations across North & South America, Europe, and Asia. In addition, the carrier operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

By Stevenhe1997 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

#7 — WestJet

Airline Ranking
WestJet is the second Canadian airline on the list of the biggest airlines in North America. At the moment, WestJet’s fleet is slightly bigger than its domestic competitor Air Canada. WestJet operates a fleet of 169 aircraft. As a result, WestJet ranks 25th among the world’s top 50 biggest airlines.

Biggest North American Airlines — WestJet

Airline Background
WestJet is a Canadian low-cost airline founded in 1996. The airline operates hubs in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver. WestJet operates a Boeing fleet of 123 aircraft, consisting of mainly B737 (600, 700, and 800) and some 787-9. The airline currently flies to 108 destinations in 25 countries across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

By Acefitt – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

#6 — JetBlue

Airline Ranking
JetBlue, one of America’s major low-cost airlines, ranks sixth among the biggest North American airlines. The airline operates a fleet of 270 aircraft. Moreover, the airline ranks 12th among the world’s biggest airlines.

Biggest North American Airlines — JetBlue

Airline Background
JetBlue Airways is a major American low-cost airline and the seventh-largest airline in North America by passengers carried. JetBlue Airways is headquartered in Long Island City. JetBlue operates over 1,000 flights daily and serves 100 domestic and international network destinations in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The airline operates a fleet of 270 aircraft.

A white plane with the word "jetBlue" painted in the front and a blue tailfin on the back prepares to land as its landing gear is deployed
By Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK – Airbus A320-232 ‘N597JB’ JetBlue, CC BY-SA 2.0

Top 10 Biggest North American Airlines: Position 5 – 1

#5 — Alaska Airlines

Airline Ranking
Alaska Airlines kicks off the top 5 of North America’s largest airlines. With an amazing fleet of 330 aircraft, the carrier also ranks as the world’s eighth-biggest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — Alaska Airlines

Airline Background
Alaska Airlines is the fifth-largest U.S. airline measured by fleet size and passenger numbers. The carrier is headquartered close to Seattle and operates out of several hubs across the U.S. Alaska Airlines operates a fleet of 330 aircraft and flies to almost 100 destinations.

Left side view of an aircraft on final approach, with partly cloudy skies in the background.
By Cubbie_n_Vegas from Las Vegas, USA – Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890 N562AS, CC BY 2.0

#4 — Southwest Airlines

Airline Ranking
With Southwest Airlines at position four, we enter a new dimension of airline size. With more than double the fleet size compared to Alaska Airlines at position five, Southwest is one of the so-called “Big Four.” Based on 734 aircraft, Southwest operates the world’s fourth-biggest aircraft fleet and ranks as North America’s fourth-biggest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — Southwest Airlines

Airline Background
Southwest is one the major airline of the United States and the world’s biggest low-cost carrier. The carrier operates an incredible fleet of 733 aircraft from several bases in the United States (e. g. Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, etc.). Almost 60,000 employees are responsible for 4,000 daily flights – mainly to the United States, Caribbean, and Central America.

By Colton Henline – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0


#3 — Delta Air Lines

Airline Ranking
Compared to Southwest, Delta Airlines adds another 50 aircraft. With 781 aircraft, Delta ranks as North America’s and the world’s third-biggest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — Delta Air Lines

Airline Background
Delta Air Lines, typically referred to as Delta, is another major U.S. carrier. With a fleet of 750 aircraft, Delta operates flights to 325 destinations. In addition, the airlines operate several hubs, such as Atlanta, Boston, or Detroit. Pre-COVID, the airline had 91,000 employees and handled 5,400 flights to 52 countries daily.

By Gietje – Own work, Public Domain

#2 — United Airlines

Airline Ranking
United Airlines is one of the world’s two airlines with a fleet size larger than 800 aircraft. With 834 aircraft, Untied Airlines ranks as North America’s and the world’s second-biggest airline.

Biggest North American Airlines — United Airlines

Airline Background
United Airlines is another major airline in the United States. Measured by fleet size and the number of routes, United ranks 3rd among the world’s airlines. The airline operates more than 800 aircraft out of its bases in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Fransisco, and Washington. With almost 100,000 employees, United Airlines operates flights to 342 destinations around the world.

By N509FZ – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

#1 — American Airlines

Airline Ranking
And finally, position one goes to American Airlines. With an amazing fleet size of 881 aircraft, the airline is North America’s and the world’s biggest airline by aircraft.

Biggest North American Airlines — American Airlines

Airline Background
American Airlines is a major carrier of the United States. Measured by fleet size, American Airlines is the world’s biggest airline. American operates a fleet of 860 aircraft out of its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington. The airline has more than 130,000 employees and handled more than 200 million passengers in pre-COVID time.

Three planes are situated, with a gray plane facing the right diagonal, a polished metal plane going the opposite direction, and another gray plane in the background
By JTOcchialini – AA 5635, CC BY-SA 2.0

Biggest North American 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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