Emirates on course to be world’s second-biggest carrier

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Emirates Airline could become the second biggest airline in the world by the end of this year, if its current growth is maintained.

According to research from US-based Innovata, as reported by the Centre for Pacific Aviation, the Dubai-based carrier’s capacity, in available seat kilometres, could overtake America’s Delta Airlines if the former’s 18.4 percent growth in 2012 continues this year.

Delta saw its capacity fall by 0.3 percent in 2012. Emirates, already the world’s largest airline by international passengers carried, will still have some way to go to beat the top-ranked carrier, US-based United Airlines.

Last year, United merged with Continental Airlines, cementing top spot on the Innovata list with a 67.3 percent rise in capacity.

The biggest riser on the list was Turkish Airlines, which jumped seven places to 15th place. Spain’s Iberia and India’s Jet Airways - with which Etihad Airways is believed to be in talks over a possible stake - were the biggest fallers.

An 8.7 percent rise in capacity helped Qatar Airways jump two spots to 17th place on the overall list. Etihad Airways rose four places to 28th, on the back of a 14.8 percent increase in capacity. Saudi Arabian Airlines remained in 37th place.

The largest low-cost airline was America’s Southwest Airlines, with Ireland's Ryanair in second place. The only Middle Eastern carrier to make the top 25 was Air Arabia, which rose one place to 22nd on the back of an 11.4 percent increase in capacity.

Dubai International Airport was ranked as the world’s fifth-biggest airport in 2012, in terms of seats per week. The airport, the only one in the Middle East to make the top 50, is on 1.6m seats per week, just behind fourth-placed London Heathrow’s 1.7m. The biggest airport was Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson with 1.9m.

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