American’s five-year reign as the world’s largest airline is coming to an end.
By two major measures, Fort Worth-based American Airlines fell behind either Delta Air Lines or United Airlines in the rankings of the world’s biggest air carriers during the second quarter.
Atlanta-based Delta brought in about $530 million more in revenue than American did between April and June. And measuring available seat miles, American fell to third behind Chicago-based United and Delta.
American’s step down from the top comes as it announced its second-quarter earnings Thursday, the last of the major carriers to report financial results. It’s also been a tough period for American’s growth with the grounding of its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 Max jets through at least Nov. 2. The company said it expects to take a $400 million hit from the 737 Max problems this year.
American is still the largest carrier by several measures, including employees, fleet size, daily flights and destinations served, but the gap has been closing. American will likely regain some ground once the 737 Max groundings end. But either way, both Delta and United are a lot closer than they once were.
“Our focus is on our strategic objectives and plans for the year and delivering the best experience for our customers and our team members,” said American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Koos.