The Top 4 Most Successful European Airlines

There are dozens of commercial airlines available for customers to select. Of these numerous airlines, four names come to mind when listing the best of the European Carriers. Ryanair, Lufthansa, British Air and EasyJet are the most successful European commercial airline companies. One thing these companies have in common, aside from quality service and reliable Aircraft charter, is taking advantage of their circumstances and forming alliances with other airlines in an effort to be able to offer products and services that other airlines cannot match or a price that cannot be beaten.

Discount Airlines


AirlinesRyanair Ltd. is an Irish airline that was founded in 1985. They use a low-cost business model and this is one reason for their great success. This method is focused on offering services at the lowest possible cost, sometimes even at a loss for the company, but making their money back by charging for non-required products and services. This method of business is similar to the American company, Southwest Airlines, which also is able to offer extremely low prices for their services because they focus on offering only the essentials at a low price and charging customers for extras. Ryanair also flourished and experienced very fast growth in 1997 as a result of the deregulation in the aviation industry in Europe.


EasyJet Airline Company is a British airline that has their headquarters at London Luton Airport, a highly popular international airport that has been in business for decades. EasyJet is the largest airline in Britain when measured by number of passengers carried.  EasyJet was founded in 1995. They achieved success by offering customers low-price travel and strategic mergers and acquisitions. The only European airline that offers cheaper air travel than EasyJet is Ryanair. EasyJet uses numerous low-cost business tactics such as not offering complimentary food and charging for extra services and goods. This enables them to keep operating costs low which is why they are able to offer their services at such a low cost.

Full Service Airlines

British Airways

British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. It is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations and second largest measured by passengers carried. Unlike EasyJet and RyanAir, British Airways is a full service carrier offering larger seats, more leg room full meals. British Airways is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance, along with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas,


Lufthansa German Airlines is the largest airline in Europe. They have the highest number of overall passengers in addition to having the largest fleet of planes. Part of the reason for their great success is that they are the flag carrier of Germany. This means that they are the official airline for the country of Germany and they receive certain privileges and benefits that other airlines may not be privy to. Another reason for their success can be attributed to their partnership with other airlines in the Star Alliance. This worldwide partnership of 27 different airlines from Air Canada to COPA in South America and from Ethiopian and South African Airways to Singapore Air allows them to work together to offer benefits and conveniences that other airlines are unable to offer.

Ryanair, EasyJet, Lufthansa, and British Air  are the most successful airlines in Europe. Their success is attributed to being innovative and creative. EasyJet and Ryanair primarily focus on using a low-cost business model. They offer the bare essentials to their customers at a price that other airlines are unable or unwilling to match. They make the majority of their money through up-selling customers for desired goods and services. While Lufthansa, and British Air cater to a different clientele of primarily business travelers and those willing to spend a bit more for the additional comfort. All of these companies are innovators in their own right and have used cutting-edge business tactics to achieve a high level of success.

Samuel Thomas is a freelance writer who focuses on aviation, commercial airlines, private jets, flight lessons, navigation, pilot careers and other relevant topics. To learn more about these subjects visit Chapman Freeborn Aircraft Charters.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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