Ranking The World’s Airlines

Aviation Week released its annual Top Performing Airlines study this week, and as always, the rankings reveal some surprising results and interesting trends.


Basically, the TPA study is aimed at finding which carriers are strongest financially – and which are struggling. This year we include 67 airlines from around the globe. We rank them from first to last, and also divide them into three size categories (determined by annual revenue).


The Aviation Week coverage of the TPA rankings can be seen here, along with summary rankings tables, and analysis by a panel of leading aviation experts.


In addition, Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) subscribers can access much more in-depth TPA data on this microsite, including detailed rankings tables, and a page of data and scores for each airline. There is an impressive amount of information to be found here.


As for the rankings headlines…. Copa Airlines is first overall and first in the mid-size category, narrowly beating last year’s winner Allegiant Air, which remains best in the small category. Japan Airlines is the top large carrier.


A couple of things set the TPA study apart from similar airline lists. First, we compare carriers from all global regions, representing all sizes and business models. This allows us to gain valuable insights into how various sectors of the industry are succeeding relative to others.


Secondly, the scoring system and rankings are not subjective – they are completely objective. We do not pick the winners, we let the scoring formulas tell us who should be ranked highest.


There is quite a complex process behind the airline rankings. We use a wide range of operational and financial data from the last full calendar year, which is run through a series of formulas to give us scores between one and 99 in four areas – financial health, earnings performance, capital efficiency and business model performance. This also gives us an overall score for each carrier.

We only include publicly-traded airlines, as their data reporting is more extensive. This means major Middle East carriers and others like Virgin Atlantic do not appear in the rankings.

Check out the links above to see the full rankings and in-depth analysis, but here are a few more highlights:

-         -  Delta was one of the most-improved airlines this year, and was easily the strongest of the U.S. majors. It was also third in the large airline category.

-          - EasyJet and Ryanair were both in the top 10, but this year EasyJet overtook Ryanair to be the highest-ranked European carrier.

-          - Almost all of the large carriers that have completed mergers in recent years saw their scores rise.

-          - Three of the top five overall – Allegiant, Spirit, and Regional Express Holdings – were from the small category.

-          - Latin America was the region with the largest increase in median scores, as all carriers from this region improved.

-          - Asia-Pacific was the only region with a median score decline. Of the 30 carriers overall that saw their scores drop, 19 were from the Asia-Pacific region.

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