Which Airlines Have The Largest Workforces?

Which Airlines Have The Largest Workforces?

Airlines, especially flag carriers, make up some of the largest companies in the world. In

Airlines, especially flag carriers, make up some of the largest companies in the world. In 2022, 12 airlines (or their parent companies) made it onto the Forbes Global 2000 list, ranked in terms of sales, profits, assets, and market value. The driving force behind achieving such high figures in these metrics is, undoubtedly, a large workforce. Here are the world’s top 10 airlines with the largest workforces:

10. Turkish Airlines

Headquarters: Istanbul, Turkey

No. of employees: 37,670

Revenue: $10.9 billion

Profit: $920.1 million

The flag carrier of Turkey is involved in international and domestic passenger air transport services, as well as air freight transportation, with a network of destinations in over 120 countries. It is among the few airlines on this list to have made a positive profit in 2022. Turkish Airlines was among Forbes’ World’s Best Employees list in 2021, before dropping off in 2022.


9. Air France-KLM

Which Airlines Have The Largest Workforces?

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Headquarters: Paris, France

No. of employees: 42,000

Revenue: $16.9 billion

Profit: -$3.9 billion

The group is the parent company of French flag carrier, Air France, and Dutch flag carrier, KLM. Apart from passenger and cargo transportation, the group also operates arms for aviation maintenance and other air transport-related activities such as catering and charter services. In 2022, the company also made it on Forbes’ lists of the World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies (#228) and the World’s Best Employers (#263).

8. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

No. of employees: 46,580

Revenue: $8.5 billion

Profit: -$1.8 billion

ANA’s large workforce provides support for its air transport, airline-related services, travel services, and trade & retail business units. ANA also operates several regional airlines and is the largest shareholder in Peach, a Japanese budget airline. Apart from its aviation activities, ANA Holdings Inc. imports and sells paper, pulp and food products, imports and exports semiconductors and electronic components, provides advertising agency services, and operates an online shopping site.

7. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Shutterstock

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Headquarters: Dallas, Texas, United States

No. of employees: 55,000

Revenue: $15.8 billion

Profit: $978 million

Another airline on this list that made a profit in 2022, Southwest Airlines is known for its ancillary service offerings, like pet transportation and its unaccompanied minor program. The airline also made it high on other Forbes lists: Best Employers for Veterans, coming in at #12, and #63 on the list World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies.

6. International Airlines

Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

No. of employees: 56,658

Revenue: $9.9 billion

Profit: -$3.5 billion

You may not have heard of International Airlines because it isn’t an airline per se, but rather, the parent group of several airlines: three flag carriers (the United Kingdom’s British Airways, Spain’s Iberia, and Aer Lingus of Ireland) along with one low-cost airline, Vueling (the largest airline in Spain terms of fleet size and number of destinations). The group was formed in 2011, after a merger agreement between British Airways and Iberia.

Fun fact: Irish ultra-low-cost carrier, Ryanair, owned more than 29% of Aer Lingus stock and the Irish state owned over 25%, before being bought out by the International Airlines Group in 2015.

5. China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines Shutterstock

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Headquarters: Shanghai, China

No. of employees: 80,321

Revenue: $10.4 billion

Profit: -$1.9 billion

China Eastern not only serves as a domestic and international airline but also operates regional scheduled and unscheduled air transportation for passengers, cargo, baggage, and mail. Additionally, the airline is involved in general aviation and aircraft maintenance. In terms of passengers carried, it is the second-largest airline in China and operates a fleet of more than 600 aircraft to nearly 250 destinations around the globe.

4. Delta Air Lines

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

No. of employees: 81,000

Revenue: $35.1 billion

Profit: $516 million

Delta Air Lines operates through two segments: air transportation, for which it is commonly known, and a lesser-known business arm for the refinery of jet fuel and non-jet fuel products. Like Southwest Airlines, Delta was ranked high on the lists of Best Employers for Veterans (#25) and World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies ($39) in 2022.

3. United Airlines

United Airlines Shutterstock
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Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States

No. of employees: 84,100

Revenue: $29 billion

Profit: -$2 billion

Along with other airlines on this list – Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines – United Airlines has consistently been one of the top airlines in the United States, in terms of the number of passengers carried. It is also the third-largest airline in fleet size and number of routes in its network. Apart from its airline services, the group owns several subsidiaries operating travel, holiday, and food services.

2. China Southern Airlines

Headquarters: Guangzhou, China

No. of employees: 100,431

Revenue: $15.8 billion

Profit: -$1.9 billion

Boasting a 6-figure workforce, China Southern Airlines is the largest airline in China. It is also Asia’s largest airline, measured in fleet size, passengers carried, and revenue. In 2021, the airline was on the list of World’s Best Employers, but dropped off in 2022.

Fun fact: China Southern Airlines has a frequent flyer program partnership with American Airlines, launched in 2019. AAdvantage bonus loyalty points. can be earned on certain China Southern Airlines flights.

1. American Airlines

American Airlines Shutterstock

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Headquarters: Fort Worth, Texas, United States

No. of employees: 123,400

Revenue: $34.8 billion

Profit: -$2.4 billion

It might come as a surprise that American Airlines’ workforce size topped that of the largest airline in the world’s most populous country, with a whopping 23,000 more employees! Not only is it the airline with the largest workforce, but it is also the largest airline in the world in fleet size, passengers carried, and revenue. American Airlines came in at #117 and #115 on the Best Employers for Veterans and World’s Best Employers lists, respectively.

The other airlines on the Global 2000 list are Hainan Airlines (36,971 employees), Singapore Airlines (25,547 employees), and Korean Air (17,992 employees). As the airline sector continues on its path to recovery, it is projected to perform better in 2023 – so we can hope to see a rise in these already booming figures.

Source: Forbes