The Largest Airlines in Asia

Some of the world's largest airlines are based in Asia.

Asia boasts some of the highest-ranked airlines in the world. The airlines are among the biggest and the best on the planet. Air transport is a popular means of transport in Asia because of the vastness of the continent as well as the convenience. Asia is home to large countries such as China, India, Japan, Thailand, and Qatar, all of which have cities that are major business and tourism hubs. These countries receive millions of visitors every month, leading to the rapid growth of air transport across the continent. Asia is served by some of the largest airlines in the world by both fleet size and passenger numbers. The domestic and international demand for air transport has caused the airlines to increase their networks and number of fleets on particular routes.

Largest Airlines by Passenger Numbers

Air China

Air China is the largest airline in Asia based on passenger numbers. In 2016, the airline served 96.5 million domestic and international passengers, up from 90 million in 2015. Established in 1988, Air China has a passenger fleet of 395 serving over 200 destinations throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and America. Air China is one of the few airlines serving all six continents.


AirAsia is one of the newest but busiest and largest airlines in Asia. Established in 1993, the airline has grown its network to 140 destinations and its fleet size to 207. In 2016, AirAsia served over 60 million domestic and international passengers, up from 55 million passengers in 2015. AirAsia has 180 flights daily serving mainly Asian countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Emirates is the third largest airline in Asia according to 2016 passenger numbers. The airline served 56 million domestic and international passengers during this period, up from 52 million in 2015. With a passenger fleet size of 240, Emirates currently serves 151 destinations in over 70 countries across the six continents with about 3,000 weekly flights.

All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways is the largest airline in Japan and offer both domestic and international flight services. The airline is also one of the largest in Asia despite a decrease in the number of passengers using the airline. In 2016, the airline served 47.3 million domestic and international passengers, down from 50.8 million in 2015. All Nippon Airways has a passenger fleet size of 218 serving 86 destinations including the entire of Japan, Asian countries, Western Europe, and the United States.


IndiGo is the largest airline in India in terms of both passenger numbers and fleet size. It is a low-cost airline serving 918 daily flights to 41 destinations in India and 7 international destinations. IndiGo served 41 million domestic and international passengers in 2016, with the domestic passengers accounting for the majority of the passengers carried by the airline.

Passenger Trends

Most airlines in Asia have witnessed an increase in the number of passengers using their services over the last seven years. This increase has been attributed to the increased passenger flight fleet size, the number of daily flights, and destinations covered by the airlines. Asia is also opening up for business and tourism making it an alternative destination. Low-cost airlines are also attracting more passengers, making air transport one of the preferred means of transport in Asia.

The Largest Airlines in Asia

RankAirlinePassengers Carried (Millions, 2016)
1Air China96.5
2Air Asia60.1
3Emirates Airlines56
4All Nippon Airways47.3
6Japan Airlines40.6
7Garuda Indonesia34.9
8Cathay Pacific34.3
9Lion Air33.2
10Hainan Airlines31.7
11Qatar Airways30
12Jet Airways26.5
13Air India25.4
14Singapore Airlines22.8
15Vietnam Airlines20.6
16Cebu Pacific19.1
17Ethihad Airways18.5
18Thai Airways International14.7
19China irlines14.7
20Philippine Airlines13.4

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