Delta Airlines Leads With a $22.4 bn Plunge

The entire airline industry took a tremendous hit in 2020, with countries worldwide shutting down borders and limiting travel as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Massive cancellations of flights to control the spread of the virus led to huge drops in airline passenger revenues and caused staggering losses to the world's largest airline companies.

According to data presented by, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Lufthansa Group, United Airlines, Air France, and the International Airlines Group, as the world's largest public airline companies based on sales, lost $110bn in revenue since the beginning of 2020.

US Airlines Lost $63.9bn Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Pretty much every major airline has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, US airline companies have witnessed the biggest drop in revenues since the beginning of 2020.

Between January and March, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), as the world's largest airline based on sales, lost $1.8bn. The company's earnings report showed the second quarter of the year delivered six-time severer loss, with revenue plunging by 88% year-over-year to $1.4bn. The strong negative trend continued between June and September, with the company losing another $9.5bn after the coronavirus pandemic ruined what is typically a peak summer travel period.

Delta's net loss was $5.4bn in the third quarter, compared to a profit of $1.5bn in the year-earlier period. Statistics show the world's leading airline lost $22.4bn in YTD revenue, the worst hit among the six leading companies.

American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL), the second-largest airline on this list and the leading airline by flown passenger kilometers, lost $21.1bn in revenue since the beginning of the year. Statistics show the company reported the most significant loss in the second quarter of 2020, with revenues plunging by 86.4% year-over-year to $1.6bn, compared to $11.9bn in the same period a year ago. Third-quarter revenue was down 73% YoY to $3.1bn, following a 59% YoY reduction in total available seat miles.

United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL), as the third-largest US airline company and the fourth-largest globally, reported a $20.4bn loss in the three quarters of 2020, a 63% decrease year-over-year. Third-quarter results revealed a massive $8.8bn revenue drop after the company already reported a $10bn loss between March and June. The Yahoo Finance data also revealed United Airlines witnessed the most significant drop in market cap among the three leading airlines in the United States, with the combined value of the company's shares plunging by 57% YoY to around $9.5bn.

Statistics show the combined revenues of the three largest US airline companies crashed by $63.9bn since the beginning of 2020.

Three Largest European Airlines Lost $45.9bn in Revenue

Although the US airlines have taken the hardest hit amid the coronavirus crisis, the European companies also reported tremendous losses in 2020. The world's third-largest airline based on sales and the largest in Europe, Lufthansa Group (ETR: LHA), reported a $10.6bn revenue loss in the first half of 2020.

The financial report of the German company showed traffic fell significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sales (revenue passenger-kilometers) plunged by 65% year-on-year, while capacity (available passenger-kilometers) was cut by 61% in this period.

After laying off 8,300 employees between January and March, the H1 2020 financial statement confirmed that 22,000 more are to follow as a part of its "ReNew" program.

Air France (EPA: AF) suffered a $20.4bn YTD revenue loss. The company's third-quarter results showed the passenger network activity was reduced to around 40% of last year's levels. The tightening of travel restrictions, border closures, and the lack of corporate travel delayed the expected traffic recovery. July and August were relatively strong in terms of traffic compared to a disappointing September affected by restrictive travel measures.

Third-quarter revenues plunged by 68.3% to €2bn, or $2.3bn, while net income loss amounted to over €1.6bn, a €2bn decrease compared to last year.

International Airlines Group (LON: IAG), as the sixth-largest airline company globally, witnessed a $14.9bn revenue loss between January and September. The financial report of the Anglo-Spanish multinational airline holding company showed passenger capacity operated in third quarter plunged 78.6% year-on-year, and 64.3% for the period of nine months.

AIG also reported an operating loss for the nine months of €3.2bn or around $3.7bn, compared to over €2.5bn operating profit a year ago. 

Statistics indicate the combined revenues of the three largest European airlines crashed by $45.9bn since the beginning of the year.