Why Asian airlines are the new leader of the pack

One of the interesting takes from outgoing IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani’s recent speech at the airline grouping’s annual media day was a fact underlining the power of Asian carriers. While the top five carriers by revenues in 2009 in the Airline Business airline rankings comprised European and US carriers (Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Delta, FedEx and AMR), Bisignani notes four of the five largest airlines in the world by market capitalisation are from Asia – Air China leading the way followed by Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and China Southern. This, together with Asia becoming the large domestic air market, underlines the growth of the region.


air china 445.jpgThis is what Bisignani had to say:

“Rapidly developing markets are shifting the industry’s center of gravity to the East.  Traditionally intra-North America traffic was our largest market. In 2009, 655 million traveled within North America and 662 million within Asia. By 2014, we expect to see 3.2 billion people traveling. That is 800 million more than the 2.4 billion that will fly today.  Of that 800 million, 360 million will travel within Asia Pacific.

We are also seeing big shifts in where the money is measured in market capitalisation.  Today, the largest airline in the world is Air China at $20 billion, followed by Singapore Airlines at $14 billion, Cathay Pacific at $12 billion, China Southern at $11 billion, LATAM  $15 billion (LAN 11 and TAM 4), and then Delta and Lufthansa at $10 billion each.”

IATA estimates Asian carriers will have contributed around half the total industry profits this year and expects it do so again. For more on this, READ OUR 2011 FORECAST FEATURE.



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