How Much Money Does the National and Global Airline Industry Make?

In 2023, the national airline industry made around $279.6 billion, while the global industry had reached $841.5 billion in U.S. dollars – a nearly 30 percent and 7 percent increase respectively from the previous year. This is a marked 44 percent improvement from 2021, which saw a severe drop in revenue due to COVID-19.

How Have the Airline Industry’s Revenues and Profits Changed Over Time?

The airline industry was in an upward trend through the 21st century, growing by 5.3 percent annually and reaching $838 billion globally from 2009 to 2019. What only generated $38 billion in the 20th century was now contributing $3.5 trillion to the global GDP, making it the 17th largest economy worldwide.

The primary reason for the recent drop in the industry’s rising growth would surprise no one: COVID-19. The tumultuous 2020 pandemic uprooted many parts of daily life we took for granted, not the least of which being air travel. No one was booking flights, and many pilots and flight attendants were suddenly out of a job.

The industry lost approximately $137.7 billion in 2020 and $42 billion in 2021. It wasn’t until 2022 that the industry regained momentum thanks to people flying regularly again. Years of being stuck inside and putting off vacations and work travel paid dividends for the industry – many of their revenue streams were alive again, as the global industry not only reached its previous high but surpassed it at $841.5 billion.

What Are the Revenue Streams in the Airline Industry?

  • Ticket Sales: Ticket sales are the predominant source of revenue for the airline industry, making up approximately 70 to 80 percent of their earnings. This is especially true when demand is high, as airlines can remain competitive while charging more for tickets (this is also why it’s cost-effective for passengers to buy tickets during the off seasons).
  • Baggage Fees: Checked baggage fees are a major yet recent income source for airlines to supplement competitive ticket sales, reaching approximately $3.5 million It’s somewhat controversial due to many believing that further limiting free overhead bin space is a key component of these fees.
  • Ancillary Services: Ancillary services, or extraneous products and services that can make your trip more comfortable and less stressful, are an increasingly important driver of airline revenue. These optional services include seat selection, in-flight meals, Wi-Fi, priority boarding and travel insurance.
  • Cargo Services: Freight and cargo planes that transport goods are a significant alternative to passenger sales.
  • Code Sharing and Alliances: Code-sharing agreements, or when airlines sell tickets for partner airlines and help them expand their destination options.
  • Charter Services: Private charter flights for corporate events, sports teams or other purposes in which a group requires an entire aircraft.
  • Frequent Flyer Program: Frequent flyer programs are programs that give regular travelers points for every mile they fly as well as points for ancillary services. These programs incentivize additional travel expenditures for key frequent travelers who are responsible for a significant portion of revenue and help enhance brand loyalty.
  • Travel Partnerships: Frequent flyer programs also include partnerships with credit card companies, car rentals and hotel bookings to offer deals and rewards through the airline’s websites to further incentivize passengers.
  • Leasing and Maintenance Services: Some airlines lease out their aircraft to other carriers or provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to third-party airlines.

Why Is the Airline Industry Expected to Make More in the Future?

Predictions suggest the airline industry will enjoy historic gains in 2024, reaching $964 billion globally. Growth estimates are being attributed to increasing passenger demand, expanded cargo operations and advancements in aircraft technology that have made flying more efficient and comfortable.

Modern in-flight entertainment (IFE) technology can simplify operations while maximizing passenger relaxation, enticing more partnerships and ticket sales. At Rosen Aviation, we’ll ensure your aircraft’s technology has been optimized to bolster your revenue. Our team will engineer customized IFE technology tailored to your cabin to ensure flyers can enjoy movies, TV shows, games and more in exceptional high definition.

We’ve Been Evolving With the Industry Over the Last Half Century and Are Equipped to Optimize Your Passengers’ Experience

The experts at Rosen Aviation will help you stay ahead of your competitors with innovative IFE technology. Call us at 1-888-668-4955 or send us a message to learn more about our cutting-edge cabin entertainment solutions.