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Spotlight on Europe: Top 10 Biggest European Airlines By Fleet Size

Europe is one of the world's most diverse aviation markets. With the fourth part of our "Spotlight Series," we take a very close view of Europe's market: The Top 10 Biggest European 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 European Airlines is the fourth edition of the “Spotlight Series.” Here are the other issues:

Top 10 Biggest European 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 European 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.

On top of that, it is essential to mention that we counted the aircraft of single airlines — not airline groups! Therefore, the ranking might look different from other similar rankings. As an example: Lufthansa’s aircraft only includes the aircraft of the German carrier — without Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Swiss, etc. Same accounts for Ryanair and others.

Top 10 Biggest European 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 European airlines.

Surprising Number One
When most people think about Europe’s biggest airline, names like Lufthansa, Air France, or Ryanair come up. However, when looking at single-airline-fleets, EasyJet currently wins the trophy of the biggest European airline.

Only Two Airlines Rank Among the World’s Top 10
Out of Europe’s ten biggest airlines, only two made it on the list of the world’s top ten biggest airlines: EasyJet and Turkish Airlines. However, with Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Ryanair, four additional airlines rank among the world’s top 20.

Many Countries Represented
When looking at European’s top 10 airlines, we can’t find a dominating country. Actually, nine different countries are represented on the list of the ten biggest airlines.

Top 10 Biggest European Airlines

#10 — Wizz Air

Airline Ranking
Hungary-based low-cost carrier, Wizz Air, kicks off the list of European’s biggest airlines. The airline operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft. The fast-growing airline also ranks as the world’s 40th biggest airline.

Top 10 European Airlines - Wizz Air

Airline Information
Wizz Air is a Hungarian ultra-low-cost airline with its head office in Budapest. The airline serves many cities across Europe and some destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. Although it is not a flag carrier, it has the largest fleet of any Hungarian airline and currently serves 44 countries.

By Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia – Wizz Air

#9 — Vueling

Airline Ranking
With only four more aircraft than Wizz Air, Spain’s Vueling ranks 9th among European’s biggest airlines. Vueling operates a fleet of 126 aircraft. As a result, Vueling also ranks 38th among the world’s biggest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - Vueling

Airline Information
Vueling is a Spanish low-cost airline and part of the International Airlines Group (IAG). The carrier operates two hubs, one in Barcelona and one in Rome. Measured by fleet size (126 aircraft) and the number of destinations, Vueling is Spain’s largest airline. In addition, Vueling serves more than 100 destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

By Pedro Aragão –, CC BY-SA 3.0

#8 — SAS Scandinavian Airlines

Airline Ranking
SAS, the Scandinavian Airline System, continues the ranking on position eight. SAS’s fleet contains nine more aircraft than Vueling’s. Therefore, with 137 aircraft SAS also ranks 33rd among the world’s largest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - SAS

Airline Background
SAS is a Scandinavian airline group with its headquarters in Sweden. The airline group was founded in 1946. Today the airline group operates more than 150 aircraft with a diversified fleet. Besides various Airbus models (A319, A320, A321, A330, A340, and A350), the airline also operates Boeing aircraft (B737) and Bombardier. SAS operates flights to destinations in Europe, Asia, and North America.

By BriYYZ –, CC BY-SA 2.0

#7 — Aeroflot

Airline Ranking
With Russia’s Aeroflot, the fleet size grows massively. Compared to SAS, Aeroflot operates almost 70 more aircraft. On top of that, Aeroflot’s fleet contains more than 200 aircraft! Subsequently, the Russian airline also ranks 21st among the world’s top 50 biggest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - Aeroflot

Airline Background
Aeroflot was founded in 1923 and is Russia’s flag carrier and biggest airline today. Aeroflot operates a fleet of 244 aircraft out of its hub in Moscow (Moscow Sheremetyevo). The airline has 30,000 employees and flies to more than 240 destinations all over the world.

By Kirill SH – Own work, CC0

#6 — Air France

Airline Ranking
France’s flag carrier, Air France, operates a fleet of 215 aircraft. As a result, Air France is Europe’s six-largest airline and ranks 20th among the world’s biggest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - Air France

Airline Background
Air France / KLM is a France-Dutch airline group. Besides the main carriers, Air France and KLM, the group consists of Transavia, Hop, or Martinair airlines. In pre-COVID time, the airline group had more than 85,000 employees and operated 2,300 flights with its 550 aircraft. In 2019, Air France / KLM operated 104 million passengers, mainly from Paris and Amsterdam. 

By Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia – Air France, F-HRBC, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, CC BY-SA 2.0

Top 10 Biggest European Airlines: Position 5 – 1

#5 — British Airways

Airline Ranking
British Airways kicks off the top 5 of European largest airlines. However, with a fantastic fleet of more than 250 aircraft, the carrier also ranks 15th among the world’s biggest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - British Airways

Airline Background
British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom. It is headquartered in London, England, near its main hub at Heathrow Airport. The airline is the second-largest UK-based carrier, based on fleet size and passengers carried, behind easyJet. British Airways was founded in 1919 and is one of the world’s oldest airlines.

By Wo st 01 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

#4 — Lufthansa

Airline Ranking
Compared to British Airways, Lufthansa’s fleet is slightly bigger. Based on 267 aircraft, Lufthansa operates Europe’s fourth-biggest aircraft fleet and ranks as the world’s 14th-biggest airline.

Top 10 European Airlines - Lufthansa

Airline Background
The Lufthansa Group consists of several European airlines, such as Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, or Eurowings. The group airlines operated out of their bases in Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich. In total, the airline group has more than 700 aircraft and, before COVID-19, almost 140,000 employees. The airline operates flights to hundreds of European destinations and Asia, North America, Africa, Central and South America.

By Quintin Soloviev – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0


#3 — Ryanair

Airline Ranking
Ryanair, Europe’s most prominent low-cost carrier kicks of the top 3 of Europe’s biggest airlines. Ryanair operates a fleet of 273 aircraft. Subsequently, Ryanair also ranks 11th among the world’s biggest airlines.

Top 10 European Airlines - Ryanair

Airline Background
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1984. Including their subsidiaries, Ryanair operates a fleet of more than 450 aircraft and forms Europe’s biggest low-cost airline. Ryanair has its headquarters in Dublin and runs aircraft bases all over Europe. Before Corona, Ryanair transported almost 150 million passengers.

By Alexander Jonsson

#2 — Turkish Airlines

Airline Ranking
Turkish Airlines is one of Europe’s two airlines with a fleet size larger than300 aircraft. With 312 aircraft, Turkish Airlines ranks as Europe’s second-and the world’s tenth-biggest airline.

Top 10 European Airlines - Turkish Airlines

Airline Background
Turkish Airlines is Turkey’s biggest airline. With a fleet of 362 aircraft and some 40,000 employees. The airline operates flights to 126 countries, more than any other airline in the world. Turkish Airlines has its central hub in Istanbul and uses a secondary hub in Izmir.

Find out everything about Turkish Airlines on our dedicated Turkish Airlines information page.

By Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia – Turkish Airlines, TC-LCA, Boeing 737-8 MAX, CC BY-SA 2.0

#1 — EasyJet

Airline Ranking
And finally, position one goes to EasyJet. With an amazing fleet size of 323 aircraft, the airline is Europe’s biggest and the world’s ninth-biggest airline by fleet size.

Top 10 European Airlines - EasyJet

Airline Background
easyJet is a British low-cost airline group with headquarters in London. The airline operates an aircraft fleet of more than 300 planes — mainly Airbus A319, A320, and A320. easyJet serves more than 130 destinations, mainly in Europe from various bases. The airline group has more than 14,000 employees.

By Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK – Airbus A321-251NX ‘G-UZMA’ easyJet UK, CC BY-SA 2.0

Biggest European 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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