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United Just Became the World's Second Largest Airline by Passenger Traffic

Jan. 10, 2019
2 min read
United Just Became the World's Second Largest Airline by Passenger Traffic
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United Airlines is once again the second largest airline in the world by passenger traffic, edging out Delta as the second biggest in the worldwide metric.

In 2018, the Chicago-based carrier flew 230.2 billion revenue passenger miles -- a key measure of traffic obtained by multiplying the number of passengers by the distance flown. By comparison, Delta's revenue passenger miles for 2018 totaled 225.2 billion. Delta had been the No. 2 airline since 2015, when it knocked United out of the second place slot. American Airlines has held the title of world's largest airline by passenger traffic and is expected to hold its place after it releases its 2018 numbers.

According to Bloomberg, United's growth can be attributed to a recent concentrated push to increase its flight capacities by as much as 6% in some of its key markets like Chicago, Houston and Denver. That growth is not likely to slow down in 2019, with United already targeting 22 new domestic route launches and 11 new regional jet routes taking off so far this year. That's in addition to the airline upgrading its capacity on transcontinental routes, adding flights with its new widebody Boeing 787-10.

"Our goal is not to be the biggest," United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy told Bloomberg. "We want to be the best and as we implement our strategy, we are looking to build on this momentum in 2019."