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Europe’s Top 20 Airlines This Month – Which Airline Is On Top?




Turkish Airlines is the largest carrier to, from, and within Europe in May 2021, based on analyzing the latest scheduled passenger capacity data provided by airlines to OAG. Six airlines have fallen out of the top-20, while low-cost carriers are down significantly and British Airways has fallen to 17th. While temporary, but it provides an interesting snapshot of the present situation.

British Airways is now the 17th largest carrier, down from fifth. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Turkish Airlines, which serves more countries around the world than any other airline, is down by 49% over May 2019, but it has risen from fourth to first place. It is fighting for pole position with Aeroflot, which is down by ‘just’ 34%.

Pobeda, which has grown strongly in the past two years, is Aeroflot’s lower-cost subsidiary. If the pair were combined, Aeroflot Group would be strongly in the lead, which provides a timely reminder to always think about what is included and why.

Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines are fighting it out for the top spot. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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Top-20 airlines

Ryanair was number-one in May 2019, with over 14 million scheduled capacity that month. Now it is down by 84%, or 11.79 million, with the carrier falling to third.

Five airlines from Russia are now in the top-20 list. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air hit hard

Ryanair is far the worst affected of the top-20 airlines serving Europe, with only Wizz Air (down by 9.55 million) and easyJet (down by 8.57 million) coming close. While the pan-Europe operations of these three have been vital to their growth and success, it is for now dragging them down. And the UK’s current ‘green list’ of countries will only their recovery very marginally.


easyJet was second in May 2019, but it has fallen to 11th. It is one of four carriers to have fallen out of the prestigious ‘Europe’s 10 largest’ category, along with British Airways, SAS, and Vueling.

Ryanair has fallen from first to third. Its capacity is down by the biggest amount. Photo: Getty Images.

New entrants in the top-20

S7 Airlines, Pobeda, Ural Airlines, TUI Airways, UTair, and Emirates have all joined the top-20 group of airlines to, from, and within Europe. This further shows how Russia has become increasingly dominant, with S7 – now the sixth-largest ahead of KLM – up from 24th.


Emirates is now the biggest airline based outside of Europe to be in the table. While its European capacity is down by six in ten seats, it is in 20th place, a jump of three places. It has 30 routes between Europe and Dubai this month. Simple Flying examined Emirates’ dominance this year.

Six airlines have fallen out of the top-20 list this May: TAP Air Portugal; Eurowings; Norwegian; SWISS; Finnair; and Austrian. Most will return in due course. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

British Airways is now 17th

British Airways, which was fifth in May 2019, is now 17th. This is in contrast to Air France, Lufthansa, and KLM which remain in the top-10.

British Airways filed just 715,000 seats with OAG, a fall of 86% from 5.22 million. It has just over 100 routes this month, including a number by subsidiary BA CityFlyer which includes new routes from Southampton. BA has announced various routes to Greece and Turkey from June, joining new ‘green list’ services to Faro, including from Manchester, Edinburgh, and Newcastle.

Do you have any flights booked with the top-20 airlines? Comment below!

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Qatar Airways Reveals Business Class Ahead Of 787-9 Launch Tomorrow



Qatar Airways has revealed its new Boeing 787-9 business class cabin. The reveal comes ahead of the type’s entry to service flying on its Doha to Milan service tomorrow. The cabin of the Boeing 787-9 has been kept a closely guarded secret by the airline following the first Boeing 787-9 delivery over a year ago.

Qatar Airways, Boeing 787-9, Business Class
Qatar Airways will debut the Boeing 787-9 on passenger services tomorrow. Photo: Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways’ business class product is widely regarded as one of the best worldwide by many travelers. However, the seat doesn’t quite fit onboard the slightly smaller Boeing 787-9 cabin. We’ve been patiently waiting to find out what seat would be placed on the aircraft, and it seems as though that patience has finally paid off.

30 business class seats

Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787-9 will seat a total of 311 passengers. While rival airline Emirates recently launched its fourth onboard cabin, Qatar will only offer two cabins on its 787-9. The airline’s CEO recently told Simple Flying that premium economy wouldn’t happen, but we could see a new first class cabin one day.

At the front of the cabin, passengers will find 30 herringbone business class suites in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each suite will have direct aisle access, and a sliding door will isolate the seat from the main cabin. The seat can easily be turned into a 79-inch flatbed. All of the seats face away from the middle of the cabin towards the windows.

Qatar Airways, Boeing 787-9, Business Class
The new QSuite will be in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration. Photo: Qatar Airways

Commenting on the new cabin, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker commented,

“The new Business Class Suite sets yet another industry standard with a uniquely private experience for premium passengers travelling with us…. Our passengers deserve the best and I am confident that they will appreciate the larger Dreamliner variant for its unmatched comfort in the sky.”

What about economy class?

Behind the business cabin, passengers will find 281 economy seats. The airline uses seats created by Recaro for the cabin, with each offering a 13-inch touch screen display. The airline is still keeping the full details of the economy cabin under wraps, including the seat pitch and complete configuration.

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First flight tomorrow

It seems that Qatar Airways has already been using its fleet of Boeing 787-9 aircraft for cargo flights. Tomorrow, the airline type will operate its first passenger flight for the airline. The aircraft will debut on flight QR127 from Doha (DOH) to Milan’s Malpensa Airport (MXP) tomorrow. According to, the airline has already taken delivery of seven Boeing 787-9 aircraft, ranging between 1.57 and 1.81 years old. It’s not currently clear which of the seven aircraft will operate the passenger flight tomorrow.

Qatar Airways, Boeing 787-9, Business Class
The aircraft’s first passenger flight will operate to Milan’s Malpensa Airport tomorrow. Photo: Qatar Airways

Following the Milan Launch, the airline is also planning to fly the Boeing 787-9 to Athens, Barcelona, Dammam, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, and Madrid. The airline has another 23 Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order. Along with its Boeing 787-8 fleet, the airline will have 60 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft once deliveries are complete.

Are you keen to see the Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 finally enter passenger service? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

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American Airlines Celebrates 80 Years of Service to Canada



American’s first ever international flight from Buffalo, New York to Toronto operated June 24, 1941, on a Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

TORONTO, June 24, 2021 /CNW/ – On June 24, 1941, American Airlines operated its first-ever international passenger flight from Buffalo, New York, to Toronto, Canada. The aircraft operating this historic flight was a Douglas DC-3 aircraft with 21 customers onboard.

Eighty years later, and despite the toughest year on record for the aviation industry due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Canada remains an integral part of American’s international network. The carrier has provided critical service during the pandemic from four airports: Calgary (YYC), Montreal (YUL), Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver (YVR). Three additional stations, Halifax (YHZ), Quebec (YQB) and Ottawa (YOW), are scheduled to resume operations in Spring 2022.

“I want to thank and congratulate our incredible team members in Canada who have formed our proud history operating our Canadian routes for 80 years,” said José A. Freig, American’s Vice President of International Operations. “Our first flight to Toronto paved the way for our international network expansion, I am grateful to our customers, Toronto Pearson Airport, and our team members for being part of this remarkable journey.”

“Toronto Pearson is proud to be a part of this historic milestone for American Airlines,” said Craig Bradbrook, Chief Operating Officer at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “Over the last 80 years, Toronto Pearson has grown to be Canada’s largest airport, and our strong partnership with American Airlines has been key to our growth story. This partnership will remain vital as travel restrictions begin to ease and we work collaboratively to continue prioritizing health and safety when welcoming back passengers.”

Other key milestones for American this summer include 39 years of service to London, including 30 years of flying to London Heathrow (LHR); 25 years of service to Rome (FCO); 20 years of service to Aguascalientes, Mexico (AGU); and a decade of service to Morelia, Mexico (MLM).

American Airlines Canada Summer Schedule:

Origin Destination Frequency
Toronto (YYZ) Charlotte (CLT) 2x Daily*
YYZ Chicago (ORD) 1x Daily*
YYZ Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) 1x Daily*
Calgary (YYC) DFW 2x Daily*
Montreal (YUL) CLT 1x Daily*
Vancouver (YVR) DFW 1x Daily*
*Schedules may vary

Restarting international travel safely

American is committed to the safe reopening of travel and has been working directly with policymakers at all levels as they work to establish acceptable travel protocols.

“We’re eager to build back our service to Canada as the recovery from the pandemic progresses,” said Nate Gatten, Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs for American Airlines. “As Canadian officials consider the path forward for travel and deliberate the easing of restrictions still in place, American stands ready to reconnect friends and family, enable long-awaited getaways, and support the economic connection between the U.S. and Canada ― all with an unwavering focus on the health and safety of our customers and team members.”

American was the first U.S. airline to introduce VeriFLY, a mobile health passport which helps customers understand and verify their travel requirements. Customers can use the free VeriFLY app when travelling on American from all international destinations to the U.S.

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From August United Crew Will Need Full Vaccinations To Operate High Risk Legs



Earlier this week, United Airlines confirmed that crew members would need to be vaccinated in order to operate flights to some countries. The airline will enforce mandatory vaccination on specific high-risk routes to areas considered to be COVID-19 hotspots. The new policy will come into force in August.

United Airlines will require a fully-vaccinated crew on flights to high-risk areas. Photo: Denver International Airport

At the start of this year, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby caused a certain amount of uproar for suggesting that airport and airline crew should have mandatory vaccinations. Many disagreed, saying that while vaccines should be encouraged, they shouldn’t be forced. Other major US airlines, including Southwest, Delta, and American, did not show as much enthusiasm.

Instead of making vaccines mandatory, United did the next best thing, offering both staff and passengers incentives to take the vaccine. Earlier this month, news broke that the airline will require all new hires to be vaccinated.

Now, United is saying that some crew members will, in fact, need to be vaccinated to fly certain routes.

The airline hopes it won’t have to add any more countries to the list. Photo: United Airlines

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Which routes are high-risk?

According to Reuters, crew members will only be allowed to operate flights to high-risk areas if they are vaccinated. Currently, the destinations United considers dangerous are; India, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Argentina. However, this list may soon also include China and Taiwan. Which countries make the list and which don’t will be based on government advice.

From July 31st, crew members on any flight to these destinations will need to be vaccinated. The following day, all pilots will also need to be vaccinated. While the airline is reportedly hopeful that the list will shrink, new variants mean there is a chance more areas become high risk.

Reaching a deal with unions

Just last month, United concluded talks with the pilots’ unions, stating that the airline could not make vaccines mandatory. However, the airline can financially reward pilots who do choose to have the COVID-19 vaccine. Crew members who choose to be vaccinated can take extra vacation days. Furthermore, pilots can get an additional 13 hours of pay.

The airline also agreed it would not require unvaccinated pilots to operate flights to countries that require vaccinations. As vaccine border requirements around the world change, this could cause issues with work schedules.

Most of the airline’s pilots and cabin crew are already vaccinated. Photo: Getty Images

In principle, United’s new policy should cause too many changes; it’s just another factor to consider when planning which pilots fly which routes. But issues could arise if countries change their entry requirements at short notice. Although since around 85% of the airline pilots have already been vaccinated, it won’t be hard to find a pilot that can fly.

Mandatory vaccination remains a controversial topic, with some insisting “no jab, no job,” while others say forcing people to have a vaccine is asking for legal trouble. Although CEO Scott Kirby hasn’t got his mandatory vaccination, this appears to be the next best thing.

What do you think of United’s policy? Should more airlines implement a similar scheme? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Another Neeleman Airline Cracks The Free WiFi Conundrum



Azul has become the second Neeleman-founded airline to bring its customers fast and free WiFi. The airline launched ‘Azul WiFi’ earlier this month, bringing free inflight connectivity to passengers on at least 17 of its domestic aircraft. With this, the airline is following in the footsteps of Neeleman’s US airline JetBlue, which is well known for its fast and free Fly-Fi connectivity offering.

Azul A320 neo
Azul is offering free WiFi for domestic passengers. Photo: Azul

Free WiFi for more passengers

As more airlines equip more of their fleets with inflight connectivity capabilities, the barrier to giving everyone this service for free remains. Delta Air Lines has been chasing a solution for free IFC for years, a quest that has seen it break its exclusivity with Gogo in a bid to find a more suitable supplier.

Delta pitched up with Viasat as a new provider, in the hope that this high-speed Ka-band provider would be capable of meeting its free WiFi needs. Viasat is already proven to be capable of delivering connectivity with enough capacity to make it free, as it has been providing JetBlue’s fast and free FlyFi since 2013.

Now, another Neeleman-founded airline is leveraging the power of Viasat’s high-speed satellite service to give its customers unrivaled inflight connectivity free of charge. Azul is currently offering free WiFi on 17 of its domestic aircraft, with plans to roll this out to more than 80 additional aircraft.

Azul Embraer
Azul has WiFi on some of its Airbus and its two E2 jets. Photo: Azul

First domestic Brazilian airline to offer free WiFi

With this move, Azul becomes the first airline offering free WiFi to its domestic customers in Brazil. Currently, the service is equipped on 15 of the airline’s A320neo and A321neos, as well as two Embraer E195-E2s, according to PaxEx.Aero. the airline has an agreement in place to equip more than 100 aircraft in total with Viasat WiFi.

Azul’s free WiFi will offer general web browsing capabilities, as well as social media and messaging. In order to maintain enough bandwidth for everyone, it is not currently allowing streaming. Despite this, is remains the only Brazilian domestic airline to offer WiFi for free.

Marco Barbosa, Azul’s Director of Customer Experience, commented on the offer, saying,

“We intend to make our customers’ onboard experience even more complete. For years, people needed to disconnect from the world while flying, but now, for those who are Blue Customers, Airplane Mode will be completely different and will revolutionize the way of flying, bringing together various in-flight entertainment options, including our established live TV.”

Embraer new livery
The airline is keen to differentiate itself from the competition. Photo: Embraer

Following in the footsteps of JetBlue is no big surprise from Azul. The airline has frequently tried to differentiate itself from the competition with a superior product and service, just like its North American neighbor. But what of Neeleman’s newest startup Breeze?

At present, none of the Breeze fleet is WiFi equipped, but the airline has been noted to be in talks with multiple IFC providers. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll see free WiFi for Breeze customers too.

This article is brought to you by Simple Flying Connectivity, a category on Simple Flying dedicated to inflight connectivity. Click here to read all of our inflight connectivity content.

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