An airline is an organization that offers transportation services for both passengers and packages. Airline companies operate under scheduled flights or as privately chartered trips. These airlines are located around the world and may be of different sizes including: small, national services and large, international services. This article takes a look at some of the largest airlines located throughout Europe.
Ireland is home to the largest airline (measured by scheduled passengers carried) in Europe, Ryanair. Additionally, this airline is considered the busiest by number of passengers. Its headquarters are located in Swords, just outside of Dublin. Ryanair utilizes several airports with primary operations out of Dublin and London airports. This airline began as a small company in 1984 that only flew from Waterford to London. In 1997, the company went public and began to expand its services throughout Europe. Today, Ryanair has more than 370 Boeing 737-800 planes and over 11,000 employees, of which 1,200 are pilots
2. Lufthansa Group
In terms of number of passengers carried, the second largest airline in Europe is Lufthansa. In terms of fleet size, however, it is the largest in Europe. This airline is headquartered in the city of Cologne in Germany and utilizes the Frankfort and Munich airports as major hubs. Lufthansa offers flights to 78 countries around the world with 197 international destinations as well as 18 national locations. It manages all of this with a fleet of over 270 planes. The origin of this airline began in 1926 when it was known as the Deutsche Luft Hansa A.G, a state-owned company. It was suspended after World War II and the majority of its staff went on to work at the newly formed Luftag airline in 1953. It continued to be a state-owned airline until 1994, when it was privatized. At that time, the company gave its employees over 3% of the shares and offered profit-sharing.
3. International Airlines Group
The International Airlines Group is the third largest airline in Europe, according to passengers carried. It was created in 2011 after the merger of British Airways and Iberia. Today, it is considered a multinational organization with headquarters in London, England and registration in Madrid, Spain. British Airways continues to hold 55% of the company. The International Airlines Group offers both passenger and freight services and has a profit margin of over $1.6 million.In 2012, this airline went on to acquire British Midland International Airways and in 2013, it purchased the Vueling airline of Spain. Currently, the International Airlines Group is undergoing a transition to replace its Boeing 747’s with Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
4. Air France, KLM
Air France, KLM is the fourth largest airline in Europe. It was created in 2004 after a merger between Air France and KLM of the Netherlands. Prior to this deal, the French government owned a 54.4% share of Air France; after the merger that share went down to 44% of the new airline. Its principal airline hubs are the Amsterdam Schiphol and the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airports. Today, this airline has around 96,417 employees and a profit margin of over $166 million. Employees own 6.6% of the company’s shares.
A more complete list of the largest airlines in Europe can be found in the chart published below.