When Delta and Northwest merged, the combined Delta became the largest airline leapfrogging United and American. Then United and Continental merged and took over the number one spot. And of course American and US Airways merged, to become the biggest single airline.
Except that Delta continued to grow organically, and surpassed United. So it’s actually the second largest airline. But maybe not for long.
- Between April and June Delta was the world’s largest airline by revenue. American’s revenue was $10.36 billion for the quarter and Delta’s was $10.45 billion.
- Then it flipped back to American, between July and October American’s revenue was $10.594 billion for the quarter while Delta’s was $10.483 billion.
- Delta’s net profit was $4.34 billion for the 12 months ending September 30, compared to $3.99 billion for American. (United’s net profit was $3.2 billion.)
We’ll soon see what fourth quarter results look like for the two carriers. Delta’s numbers are out, we’ll just have to see what American’s look like.
Delta is also a much more valuable company than other US carriers:
Delta has continued to find creative ways to grow, for instance building a Pacific hub in Seattle (rather than buying a hub there) and grows revenue by earning more per seat than its competitors. Meanwhile American’s seat growth has largely come from adding seats to aircraft.
American remains the world’s largest airline. But it’s getting close, Delta is catching up.
And Southwest, of course, is more a more valuable company and carries more passengers than most people realize. For all the talk of United, Delta, and American being the big 3 Southwest does carry more domestic passengers than any of the others.