In this article, we discuss the 20 best airlines in the world in 2023. If you want to skip our detailed analysis of the airline industry and skip to the top 5 airlines, check out 5 Best Airlines in the World in 2023.
We previously reported that according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 2023 is the year that the airline industry will see its net profits doubling to approximately $10 billion, while operating profits surpass $22.4 billion. It is forecasted that more than 4.35 billion passengers will board flights in 2023, which is close to the 2019 levels, when 4.54 billion flew throughout the year. Revenues are also projected to exceed $800 billion this year, which suggests a solid recovery in the airline industry. IATA ascribes this strong performance to China lifting its COVID-zero policies, high cargo revenues despite the volume remaining lower than pre-pandemic levels, and moderating jet fuel prices.
A KPMG report suggests that the global airline industry plummeted by $140 billion in 2020, recorded a $42 billion loss in 2021, and the loss for 2022 came in at $6.9 billion. The pandemic had a devastating impact on travel and leisure activities, but the airline industry is set to return to profitability next year. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the number of air passengers in 2022 rose about 47% compared to the prior year, and revenue passenger kilometers climbed by 70% during the same time. ICAO attributed this recovery in the industry to robust international travel. ICAO also noted growth of about 50% in the annual passenger revenues of airlines from 2021 to 2022, while keeping the yield and exchange rates aligned with 2019 levels. Another solid signal of recovery in the airline industry was the growing number of aircraft orders and deliveries by Airbus and Boeing. In 2022, these aircraft manufacturers received 53% more orders and delivered 20% more aircrafts as compared to 2021. The aircraft orders in 2022 surpassed 2019 levels. ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano commented:
“Assuring the safe, secure, and sustainable recovery of air services will be key to restoring aviation’s ability to act as a catalyst for sustainable development at the local, national and global levels, and will consequently be vital to countries’ recovery from the broader impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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Another development in the airline industry is the introduction of electric air taxis. Commercial airlines are looking to invest in electric air taxis, as they will make trips to airports quicker for passengers and will potentially reduce wait times at the airports as a result. For example, CNBC reported that in October 2022, Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) invested $60 million in Joby Aviation, Inc. (NYSE:JOBY), a company that manufactures electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs), which will operate as air taxis. This investment resulted in a five-year partnership between the companies, where Joby’s eVTOLs will operate solely in Delta’s network. Similarly, United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL) partnered with Heart Aerospace, a Swedish startup, to get electric aircrafts running by 2030. United Airlines has two prior investments in eVTOLs – one for $15 million with Eve Air Mobility, which will supply 200 aircrafts, and another with Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE:ACHR) worth $10 million for 100 aircrafts. Additionally, American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ:AAL) also invested $25 million in Vertical Aerospace, a UK-based manufacturer of eVTOLs. American Airlines placed an order for 50 aircrafts.
Savanthi Syth, the managing director of equity research at Raymond James who covers global airlines and mobility, noted that these agreements between airlines and eVTOL manufacturers are not concrete and depend largely on regulations and the ability of companies to produce them. Syth commented:
“We think that you’ll see small amounts of [eVTOL] operations starting in the 2025 timeframe, with certifications hopefully happening in 2024. But for you to see a lot of aircraft flying overhead, it’s probably going to be more likely into the 2030s.”
In the constantly evolving airline industry, there are too many options for passengers to choose from. Most individuals prefer airlines with the best safety, reliability, service, and quality ratings to ensure a smooth journey, so they are keen to check airline ratings from best to worst before making a decision. While some of the best airline stocks include Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), and United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL), in this article we discuss the top 20 airlines in the world.
For this article, we selected the top rated airlines by AirlineRatings.com and Skytrax World Airline Awards. As of June 15, 2023, Skytrax Awards had the latest airline ranking data for 2022. So we chose the 2022 data from both sources and came up with an average ranking method for our list. We chose an average ranking method since the criteria that the airlines are assessed on is fairly subjective, and averaging out the scores by these two organizations usually produces a better outcome.
AirlineRatings.com and Skytrax World Airline Awards rank airlines based on safety records, on-time performance, comfort and amenities, quality of service, frequent flyer programs and loyalty rewards, international network and routes, environmental and sustainability initiatives, and price competitiveness, among others.
Best Airlines in the World in 2023
20. Hawaiian Airlines
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 20
Hawaiian Airlines is the biggest provider of commercial flights to and from the U.S. state of Hawaii. The airline has its primary hub at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oʻahu and a secondary hub at Kahului Airport on Maui. Hawaiian Airlines was incorporated on January 30, 1929 and it is the longest running airline in Hawaii. It is one of the best airlines in the world, ranking 20th on our list.
While Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), and United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL) are some of the top airline stocks preferred by hedge funds, their airlines are yet to feature on our list of 20 best airlines.
19. Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK)
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 19
Alaska Airlines is a major US carrier based in SeaTac, Washington. The primary hub of Alaska Airlines is at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. On April 20, Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK) reported a revenue of $2,196 million for Q1 2023, up 30.7% year-over-year and beating market estimates by $6 million. The company expects double-digit adjusted pre-tax margin in the second quarter of 2023. Alaska Airlines is one of the top airlines in the world.
18. JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU)
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 18
JetBlue is a low cost American airline headquartered in Long Island City, New York. On April 25, JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of -$0.34 and a revenue of $2.33 billion, topping Wall Street consensus by $0.04 and $10 million, respectively. Revenue for the first quarter increased approximately 34% compared to the prior-year quarter. JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) expects a profitable second quarter, on the back of robust demand and ongoing momentum from its commercial activities. JetBlue is one of the best airlines in the world.
17. Virgin Australia
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 17
Virgin Australia is an Australian airline that operates under the Virgin Group, which was established by Sir Richard Branson in 1970. Virgin Australia received an award for the Best Cabin Crew for the fifth year in a row by AirlineRatings’ Airline Excellence Awards in 2023. Virgin Australia ranks 17th on our list of the 20 best airlines in the world.
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 16
Finnair is the largest airline in Finland, in addition to being the country’s flag carrier. Finnair, owned majorly by the government of Finland, is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance. 2023 marks the 100th year that Finnair has been in operation. The airline now has a global network, making it one of the best airlines in the world.
15. Air New Zealand
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 15
Air New Zealand is an Auckland-based airline which serves as the flag carrier of New Zealand. Since 1999, Air New Zealand has been a member of the Star Alliance. Before COVID-19, the airline flew more than 17 million passengers per year, averaging at 3,400 flights per week. Air New Zealand’s airplanes range in size from the Bombardier Q300 to the Boeing 777-300ER. It is one of the best airlines in the world.
14. British Airways
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 14
British Airways is a London-based airline that is the flag carrier of the United Kingdom. It is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance and British Airways has been operating for more than 100 years. British Airways initiated four projects in the field of aviation decarbonization in 2021, meant to achieve the industry’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. These projects were selected as recipients for government funding. British Airways ranks 14th on our list of the 20 best airlines in the world.
13. Virgin Atlantic
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 13
Founded in 1984, Virgin Atlantic is a British airline with its hubs at London Heathrow and Manchester Airport. On March 2, 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam airline alliance. It operates under the Virgin Group banner, and in 2022, Virgin Atlantic generated £2.9 billion in total revenue during 2022, which represents a 98% recovery as compared to the revenue earned in 2019.
12. Cathay Pacific Airways
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 12
Cathay Pacific Airways is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport. It is one of the founding members of Oneworld alliance. The airline is committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Cathay Pacific Airways is one of the best airlines in the world.
11. Air France-KLM
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 11
Ranking 11th on our list of the best airlines in the world is Air France-KLM, which is the flag carrier of France. Air France-KLM is a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. The airline transported 83 million passengers in 2022, serving in 120 countries. Air France-KLM aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% in 2030, as compared to 2019 levels.
10. EVA Air
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 10
EVA Air is one of the biggest Taiwanese airlines that operates domestic and international flights, with its primary hub located at Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei, Taiwan. In 1991, EVA Air was one of the first carriers to introduce the Premium Economy class. The airline is also a member of the Star Alliance. EVA Air ranks 10th on our list of the best airlines in the world.
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 9
Emirates is one of the flag carriers for the United Arab Emirates. It is a major airline in the Middle East, and its primary hub is located at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport. Emirates carried 15.8 million passengers in 2020 and remained the largest airline in the world during the peak pandemic era. It is classified as one of the best airlines in the world.
8. Japan Airlines
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 8
Japan Airlines is Japan’s flag carrier and the biggest airline in the country. It has four main hubs – Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport. In FY 2021, Japan Airlines had a total revenue of 682.7 billion yen, of which 68.7 billion yen was attributed to international passengers.
7. Turkish Airlines
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 7
Turkish Airlines is the flag carrier of Turkey and a member of the Star Alliance network. 2023 marks the 90th year that Turkish Airlines has been operational, flying across 120 countries with a fleet of 419 aircrafts. It is one of the best airlines in the world, winning the Skytrax award for ‘Best Airline in Europe’ in 2022.
6. Etihad Airways
Insider Monkey’s Average Ranking: 6
Etihad Airways ranks 6th on our list of the best airlines in the world. It is one of the two major airlines from the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi International Airport being its primary hub. The airline flies to passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. As of June 2022, Etihad Airways serves 71 passenger and cargo destinations in 45 countries, with the airline having transported more than 4 million passengers.
Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), and United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL) operate some well known domestic and international routes, but they don’t yet feature on our best airlines list like Etihad Airways.
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