European Airlines Analysis: How Europe’s Top Airlines Performed In 2021

Based on the latest data from 2021, we've analyzed the number of flights, punctuality & cancellations of European airlines in 2021: Air France, British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines.

European Airlines Analysis — Overview and Contained Airlines

After initiating our new airline analysis series where we analyze the performance of leading airlines, we thought it is time to put data on a higher level. Therefore, we extracted some of the results and compiled them as a European Airlines Analysis. What’s contained?

  • We looked at the number of flights the airlines performed from February to June 2021. Moreover, we put that into relation to more than 250 airlines.
  • Second, we analyzed the on-time performance and again put it into context with all major global airlines.
  • And finally, we looked at the airlines’ cancellation rates.

Here are the airlines that are contained in the European Airlines Analysis:

AirlineIATA
Air FranceAF
British AirwaysBA
KLMKL
IberiaIB
LufthansaLH
RyanairFR
Turkish AirlinesTK
European Airlines Analysis – Contained Airlines

If you want to dive into the detailed analysis of a single airline, here are the links you need:

European Airlines Analysis by Number of Flights

Overall Results

The first part of the European Airline Analysis looks at the number of flights Europe’s leading airlines performed from February to June. The results, from our point of view, are pretty interesting. Ryanair’s performance definitely is the first thing you spot when looking at the chart. The Irish low-cost carrier has struggle until April and performed fewer flights than most of its competitors. However, after a significant breakout in May, Ryanair’s number of flights explode in June. As a result, Ryanair takes over the title “Europe’s biggest airline” from Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines has held the title of Europe’s biggest airline by the number of flights constantly from February to June. Nevertheless, the Turkish flag carrier had to digest a decrease in the number of flights in May and couldn’t keep up with Ryanair’s enormous pace in June.

The development of Lufthansa, KLM, Iberia, and British Airways looks very similar. Although they started on different levels in February, the growth path is pretty much identical.

European Airlines Analysis - Number of Flights

Data Details
If you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneAverage
AF14,57814,65912,47918,10822,56516,477
BA2,6183,4503,9185,0106,7144,342
KL7,8409,9459,18010,32512,70810,497
IB5,8506,7827,6668,46710,3937,831
LH5,7058,23310,59012,68816,08810,660
FR3,3343,6488,35712,11838,355 13,162
TK15,133 18,904 20,339 18,136 26,17419,737
European Airlines — Monthly Flights February – June 2021

Global Ranking

With the global ranking, we compare the airlines’ performance to more than 250 other airlines. Accordingly, the chart shows the position of each airline for each of the months. Although not every’s airline development is linear, they managed to improve their ranking compared to the situation in February.

Based on the massive increase in flights, Ryanair jumped almost 20 positions and ranked 8th among the world’s biggest airlines by the number of flights. Moreover, after some tough months, four airlines (Lufthansa, Air France, Turkish Airlines, and Ryanair) are back in the top 25 of the world’s biggest airlines.

European Airlines — Global Ranking

Data Details
If you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune
AF1321231713
BA7370676157
KL3033363028
IB4647423637
LH4841282221
FR616737268
TK121311179
European Airlines — Global Ranking February – June 2021

European Airlines Analysis by Punctuality

With an increasing number of flights, punctuality is also back in the spotlight for many airlines — and passengers. Therefore, we’ve analyzed the arrival on-time performance of the carriers in the corresponding months.

Overall Results

Although the airlines’ performance looks quite similar from a chart point-of-view, the differences are significant. Overall, Iberia played in its own league. The Spanish flag carrier constantly achieved on-time performance above 95% and even 98%. Besides Iberia, Ryanair and KLM also achieved outstanding results. Both carriers operated a punctuality level above 90% in many months.

Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, and Air France showed weaker performance in terms of punctuality. Especially Air France seemed to struggle. As a result, its punctuality level slipped below 80% in February and June.

European Airlines - Punctuality February - June 2021

Data Details
In case you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneAverage
AF77.4%80.9%85.0%85.0%78.7%81.4%
BA82.8%90.5%85.5%92.1%90.5%88.2%
KL83.6%93.5%93.4%94.8%91.5%91.3%
IB95.5% 97.2% 98.1% 98.0% 96.1% 96.8%
LH78.6%85.6%88.9%86.7%84.9%84.9%
FR88.5%93.0%94.2%93.6%92.8%92.4%
TK79.5%87.4%87.6%89.1%86.7%86.0%
European Airlines — Punctuality February – June 2021

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European Airlines Analysis by Punctuality

Global Ranking

From a global point of view, the ranking of analyzed airlines looks very interesting.


Data Details

In case you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune
AF1321231713
BA7370676157
KL3033363028
IB4647423637
LH4841282221
FR616737268
TK121311179
European Airline — Punctuality Global Ranking February – June 2021

European Airlines Analysis by Cancellations

Overall Results

When looking at the cancellation rate of analyzed airlines, three significant aspects are apparent:

Airlines struggled in February
Almost every airline showed weaker performance in February. Some of the carriers had to cancel more than 5% or 10% of their planned flights. Nevertheless, and worth mentioning, this was most likely due to COVID-19 and the dynamic situation.

Air France negatively stands out.
Compared to the other top European airlines, Air France’s cancellation rate was much higher each month. In February, Air France had to cancel more than 11%

Lufthansa, Iberia & Ryanair with a solid performance
Two of the airlines that stood out positively in terms of punctuality (Iberia and Ryanair) also achieved outstanding results in terms of cancellation rates. Besides that, Lufthansa showed the lowest cancellation rates in March and April.

Data Details
In case you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneAverage
AF11.8%9.8%4.8%3.4%6.4%7.2%
BA4.3%1.0%2.8%1.8%1.7%2.3%
KL6.7%1.6%0.8%1.0%2.1%2.4%
IB0.3% 0.3%0.6%0.3% 0.1% 0.3%
LH0.8%0.2% 0.2% 0.6%0.2%0.4%
FR0.5%0.4%0.8%0.3% 0.1% 0.4%
TK2.0%1.3%2.3%1.7%1.1%1.4%
European Airlines — Cancellation Rates February – June 2021

Global Ranking

Although some airlines, such as Lufthansa, Ryanair, or Iberia, operated at meager cancellation rates, they are not part of the top global players in this field. On the other side, Air France, KLM, BA, and Turkish Airlines are located in the midfield or lower third compared to global airlines.

European Airlines - Cancellation Rates - Global Ranking


Data Details

In case you want to dive into the details, here’s the underlying data of the above chart.

AirlineFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune
AF158175149134163
BA17785134112125
KL2051098593134
IB3348735243
LH6046488063
FR9761855545
TK14295127112114
European Airline — Cancellation Rates Global Ranking February – June 202

European Airlines Ranking -What Do You Think?

We’re always happy to get your feedback. Just leave a comment below or get in touch with the author on social media.

Used Data
The shown information is based on OAG data and internal data sources. Rankings only included airlines that operated more than 500 flights in the respective month. However, the global benchmark includes all tracked flights. On average, 280 airlines are included in each month’s analysis. Whenever stated, EMEA refers to airlines based in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa.

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About the author

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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