Emirates Airline was the world's third-largest carrier in terms of available seat kilometres per week in 2012, according to research by Innovata reported by the Center for Pacific Aviation. However, if it continues its 2012 growth rate of 18.4% it could become the second-largest in 2013.
United Airlines, following its merger with Continental, ended 2012 as the world's biggest airline. Delta, whose capacity fell 0.3% year on year, came in second place and could be overtaken by Emirates next year. An 8.7% rise in capacity helped Qatar Airways jump two spots to 17th place on the overall list. Etihad Airways rose four places to 28th, on the back of a 14.8% increase in capacity. Saudi Arabian Airlines remained in 37th place.
Southwest Airlines remained the largest LCC with growth of 7.3% in 2012. Ireland's Ryanair came in second place. The only Middle Eastern carrier to make the top 25 was Air Arabia, which rose one place to 22nd on the back of an 11.4% increase in capacity.
The biggest movers in the overall World Top 50 list include Turkish Airlines, which jumped seven places to rank 15th globally, while Indonesian carrier Lion Air moved eight places to enter the global Top 40 for the first time. Iberia and India's Jet Airways fell four and seven places in the 2012 rankings, respectively.
Atlanta Airport remained the world's largest, ahead of Beijing Capital Airport, in terms of seat throughput for the week, but this ranking seems certain to reverse in 2013. Tokyo came in third, with London and Dubai in the fourth and fifth places, respectively. Dubai International Airport was the only Middle Eastern hub on the Top 50 list with 1.6 million seats per week.