Top Five Airlines Not in Europe or North America

World’s biggest carriers by market capitalisation not in “west” but east and south

The five biggest airlines in the world are no longer to be found in North America or Europe, according to the International Air Transport Association. They’re based in Asia and Latin America. Citing airlines’ market capitalisation values, IATA says that the world’s five biggest carriers are Air China (€15 billion), Singapore Airlines (€10.5 billion), Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific (€9 billion), China Southern (€8.3 billion) and LATAM (€8.3 billion).

LATAM is the holding group for a recently announced merger that would combine the airlines TAM in Brazil and LAN in Chile. Delta and Lufthansa meekly follow with market capitalisations of €7.5 billion each. This global shift demonstrates the airline industry’s gradual move to “higher-growth countries”, away from North America and Europe.

“The world is changing in aviation, and it’s changing very, very quickly,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s CEO, at a news conference at the association’s headquarters in Geneva. “Rapidly developing markets are shifting the industry’s centre of gravity to the east.” Bisignani said that Asia’s rapidly growing middle class would ensure that the aviation outlook remains bright for the foreseeable future.

Demand for travel between Asia’s 15 “mega-cities that have populations of more than 10 million, is also growing fast. “Archaic” laws restricting foreign ownership in US airlines are an additional factor restricting growth there, according to Bisignani.