In this article we are going to list the 15 Most Valuable Airline Companies. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 Most Valuable Airline Companies.
Go back over 120 years and flying was a dream that few thought could be fulfilled. But then along came the Wright brothers and made history in the early 20th century by making a rudimentary aircraft capable of flying. Move forward a few decades and commercial flying had been revolutionized, even though it was only affordable for the extremely rich.
Now, in the 21st century, flying is perhaps the most essential means of transportation, both because of its speed and efficiency and because of its ability to transport people to every corner of the globe. The airline industry is now one of the biggest industries globally, and is extremely important for other industries as well, with its biggest impact undoubtedly being on the tourism industry, which is a major contributor to the GDP of many countries across the world.
The airline industry has benefitted a lot from the advancements made in technology, with cutting edge technology permeating every part of the industry, from the airline itself to in flight entertainment and even flight control systems. Jet airplanes were first introduced for commercial use back in the 1950s while jumbo jets with wider bodies were then introduced first in the 1970s. One of the biggest technological accomplishments of the airline industry was the Concorde, which was a British French jet and had a maximum speed of twice the speed of sound. After 27 years, the jet was finally retired 2003.
Globally, at least 2,000 airlines are currently in operation, with many more having become defunct. These 2,000 airlines are in charge of more than 23,000 aircraft which provide service to at least 3,700 airports across the world if not more. In 2019, $876 billion were spent on air transport at a global level, which makes up around 1% of the world's GDP and recorded a 3.6% increase over the previous year, which was a massive achievement.
You can't really mention the airline industry today without talking about the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the world's economy and the airline industry in particular. The link between the two? Well, countries went into lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus with international and domestic travel both suffering. Even now, a year into the pandemic, most countries have severe restrictions on international travel with countries such as Australia and New Zealand not allowing any travelers. According to the International Air Transport Association, only $340 billion were spent on air transport in 2020, which is a 61.2% decrease from the previous year, and one of the main reasons why 400,000 jobs were lost in the airline industry, according to Forbes. There is slightly better news however. As we've gotten comparatively better with dealing with the virus and vaccines have been developed and are now being rolled out globally, the expectation is that 2021 will be a better year for the industry, with the forecast indicating $476 billion to be spent on air travel or an increase of 40% over the previous year. This will still only contribute around 0.5% to the world's GDP or half that of pre-pandemic levels but at least it's a start.
Another way the pandemic has affected air travel is by reducing the disposable income of most people. Due to rampant unemployment as businesses suffered massive losses, many people are even struggling to keep a roof over their heads. And despite the massive losses incurred by most airlines in the world, perhaps the 15 most valuable airlines in the world are in the best position to make it through the biggest pandemic in a century. Our rankings are based on the market cap of each company, with the details being taken from Yahoo Finance. Because of our methodology, we have had to exclude national air carriers which are private but still undoubtedly among the biggest in the world, especially those based in the Middle East such as Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. But will they be able to recoup their losses and recover the jobs that were last? Only time will tell.
Let's take a look at the giants in the sky, starting with number 15:
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 8.24
Founded 68 years ago in 1953, the company owns Lufthansa Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. The group has one of the biggest airlines in the world, with at least 700 aircraft.
14. Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK)
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 8.803
Alaska Air Group owns two major airlines, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, and was founded 36 years ago in 1985. The company has around 24,000 employees.
13. Korean Air
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 8.97
Korean Air came into existence 52 years ago in 1969 and is the flag carrier of South Korea, one of the most advanced Asian countries in the world. It is headquartered in Seoul and serves 126 destinations in more than 40 countries across the globes and has 13 domestic divisions as well. The airline's fleet size has 159 aircraft.
12. Japan Airlines
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 10.905
One of only two Japanese airlines in our list, Japan Airlines is headquartered in Tokyo and is Japan's flag carrier. The company was incorporated 69 years ago in 1951 and provides services to 225 destinations in at least 30 countries across the world. The airlines have a fleet of 279 aircraft.
11. China Eastern Airlines Corporation
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 11.928
China Eastern Airlines Corporation came into existence in 1988 and has a fleet of more than 577 aircraft while serving nearly 250 destinations worldwide. It is headquartered in Shanghai with the government having the majority ownership of the airline company.
10. Ana Holdings
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 12.1
All Nippon Airways is the biggest airline in Japan both in terms of revenue and in terms of passengers as well. It was founded 68 years ago in 1952 and has around 46,000 employees across the world.
9. Singapore Airlines
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 12.542
Singapore is the business center of the world so it comes as no surprise that its national air carrier is one of the most valuable airline companies. The company has at least 141 aircraft in its fleet and its revenues exceeded $8.6 billion.
8. International Airlines Group
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 14.24
The company is the parent of British Airway and Iberia, the carriers of the United Kingdom and Spain respectively, and came into existence 10 years ago in 2011. The company has also purchased other airlines which include BMI, Aer Lingus , Air Europa and Vueling in the decade since it came into being and is listed in both the London Stock Exchange and the Madrid Stock Exchange.
7. China Southern
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 14.911
China Southern is headquartered in Guangzhou and was established 32 years ago in 1988 after the restructuring of CAAC Airlines. The company operates more than 2,000 flights to at least 200 destinations daily.
6. American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL)
Market cap of the company in March 2021 (in billions of dollars): 15.973
Surprisingly, American Airlines doesn't make the top 5 most valuable airlines even though the company had more than $45 billion in sales as well as total assets of nearly $60 billion and has more than 133,000 employees. And this is also despite the fact that in terms of number of passengers, American Airlines is considered to be the biggest airline in the world. However, the airline was impacted significantly by the Covid-19 pandemic and lost $2.2 billion in Q1'20.
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Disclosure: None. 15 most valuable airline companies is originally published at Insider Monkey.