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The North American Airline Market Is The Most Concentrated In The World


  • North America has the highest market concentration in terms of airline market share, with the three largest airlines capturing 50% of the total market share.
  • The Asia-Pacific region, on the other hand, has the least concentration, with half of the market share being shared among 18 airlines.
  • The Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and Africa fall in between, with varying levels of market concentration among their top airlines.

On November 17th, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data outlining the airline market share profile according to the specific regions. IATA’s Sustainability and Economics have put together the data.

The market share is measured by the cumulative share of total scheduled revenue seats by region and number of airlines. The data is based on the performance of the past year and the advance data for November and December.

A breakdown of the market share by airlines according to region

Source: IATA

According to the data presented above, the market concentration for the three largest regions (North America, Europe, and Asia) varies, with North America having the highest concentration.

North America’s market breakdown

North America (the United States, Canada, and Mexico) sports the second-largest aviation market in the world, with the region expecting to dominate the aviation landscape until 2027. The main factor that drives revenue in the region is the high frequency of regional flights, but following widespread consolidation, there is less competition than there used to be.

IATA’s data shows that the region has the highest levels of concentration, with the three largest airlines capturing 50% of the total market share. It just goes to demonstrate the incredible market power of the USA’s big three. When the top 10 airlines are taken into consideration, this number increases to 89%. However, the growth rate in the region is significantly lower than in both the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle-Eastern region.

Grapth depicting regional growth rates by regional

Source: Mordor Intelligence 

Asia-Pacific region

In stark contrast to North America, the Asia-Pacific region (mainly India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia) is the least concentrated in its market share across the airlines. Half of the region’s market share is shared among 18 airlines. It has the flatest curve among all the regions.

The region is the largest and fastest-growing, with revenue passenger kilometers projected to jump by 400% from last year’s 500 billion to a staggering 4.5 trillion. That will be supported by a fleet growth of 6,000 aircraft, almost tripling the current APAC fleet. The high level of growth is mainly attributed to the increase in regional travel in China and India. In addition, favorable economic and political conditions, including the regional central location, have positioned it for success.

Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East

The levels of concentration of other regions on the list fall in between the North American and Asian regions.

Emirates Boeing 777X and 787

Photo: Boeing

The Middle East is second in line when it comes to market concentration among airlines. The top five airlines account for 62% of the region’s market share. Latin America follows closely with the top five carriers, accounting for 51% of the market, increasing to 72% when the top ten airlines are considered.

In Europe, the 50% market share is achieved by the top ten airlines. Lastly, Africa’s top five carriers hold 30% of the region’s traffic, with the number increasing to 44% when the top ten airlines are considered.

Source: IATA


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