In general, airlines can be divided into three categories for passengers: charter airlines, low-cost airlines and passenger airlines with scheduled flights . Of course, there are also combinations from the individual categories.


Charter airlines

A charter airline is generally understood to mean the many different holiday airlines of the tourism companies or tour operators. It does not offer its own flights, but operates flights under the brand name of a tourism company.

Cost airlines

Low-cost airlines are airlines that usually specialize specifically in short- and medium-haul flights. The aim is, as the name suggests, to be able to offer these flights as cheaply as possible. The low prices are usually achieved by reducing service, flexibility and comfort. In the case of service, for example, drinks and food are only served at an additional cost, comfort is saved on seat pitch and rebooking is usually only possible with considerable expenses.

Passenger airlines with scheduled flights

Passenger airlines with scheduled flights usually fly regularly between certain destinations. The price is usually constant, with many airlines usually offering several ticket options (rebookable, more legroom,…).

The largest airlines by the number of passengers

There are about 850 different airlines worldwide, the four largest of which are all headquartered in the USA.

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. Delta Air Lines
  3. American Airlines
  4. Ryanair
  5. United Airlines
  6. China Eastern Airlines
  7. China Southern Airlines
  8. EasyJet
  9. Turkish Airlines
  10. Air China
  11. LATAM Airlines
  12. Lufthansa
More on the subject of airlines

Overview of airlines:

Airline alliances

There are also various alliances with the airlines, which is equivalent to strategic cooperation between several airlines. Aviation alliances allow individual airlines to achieve cost reductions by exploiting synergies. Passengers have the advantage that air miles can be earned beyond the airlines.

The four most important alliances

  • Star Alliance, 27 members
  • Sky Team, 20 members
  • Oneworld Alliance, 15 members
  • Etihad Airways Partners, 6 members
More about airline alliances

Categories: Travel


Manuel Metzler ist CEO der Digitalisierungsagentur DIGITAL LEADER und begeisterter Vielflieger.