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About this Database

What can you find here?

The T2RL database was originally released in March 2010. The data, content and analysis has been continually updated since by a full time research and analysis team. It addresses the market for airline systems from both the demand and supply sides.


In the "Insight" tab of the database our consultants have produced reports and articles highlighting analysis on current industry developments. Documents in this section represent our insight into the underlying trends and expectations behind the data. They are available for subscribers to download but remain proprietary to T2RL. You may not publish or circulate any part of these documents without express written permission from T2RL. .


The main body of the database consists of key data on the world's airlines. We track over one thousand one hundred airlines and to our knowledge this is the largest such database of airlines available today.

The key parameter for the supply of commercial IT systems to airlines is the number of passengers boarded. We have tracked this number for all the airlines we follow and the database contains the numbers for each year from 2006 onwards. Wherever possible we have used figures published by the airlines themselves. Where there is no published figure available we have estimated the number using a model based on the airlines' fleet and schedules. Where we have used such an estimate this is indicated in the database. Around 90% of the statistics are published figures but experience tells us that a certain number of airlines will never publicly report their volumes and we will continue to work with estimates indefinitely.

We also indicate the adjustment needed to allow for the practice of airlines operating under another airline's identity in a franchise relationship, this derived from an estimate of the proportion of each airline's business that is sold in the key distribution channels.

We have allocated each airline to one of four tiers. It is common in the industry to speak of "tier one airlines" or "tier two airlines". Whilst there is a common understanding of the general meaning of these terms we have been unable to find an existing rigorous definition. For the purposes of this database we define tier levels as follows:

  • Tier 1 airlines board more than 25 million passengers per year
  • Tier 2 airlines board between 10 and 25 million passengers per year
  • Tier 3 airlines board between 3 and 10 million passengers per year
  • Tier 4 airlines board fewer than 3 million passengers per year.

Business Model

Recent years have seen rapid evolution in the business model of passenger airlines. Twenty years ago all airlines operated in much the same manner. They had extensive interline relationships and distributed their product primarily via travel agents. The rise of Low cost airlines have dispensed with traditional distribution channels in favour of direct sales via the Web. They operate simple fleets on simple point-to-point routes. They generally offer a single class of service with no "free" amenities.

The last five years or so has seen the pure low-cost business model begin to give way to a hybrid environment. Some of the complexity that the LCCs eliminated has been re-introduced, sometimes in a modified form, for the simple reason that some types of complexity drive higher revenue.

We have researched the business practices of all the airlines in our database and have identified ten key attributes that generally differ between traditional network and hybrid airlines.
  • Codeshare - A codeshare agreement is defined by the IATA terms as an airline business arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight.
  • Connecting Services - This is defined as the airline offering their own connecting routes eg. NCE/LHR/JFK all by the same airline.
  • Traditional GDS Distribution - The airline's flights are available for agents to sell/reserve a seat through a Global Distribution System (not just view the airlines schedule/timetable), which is reflected in the airline's inventory. It does not include airlines that just have GDS connectivity via an API.
  • Interline - The airline has a voluntary commercial agreement with another airline to handle passengers traveling on itineraries that require multiple airlines (definition taken from IATA).
  • Domestic and International Services - The airline operates both domestic and international routes.
  • Longhaul Flights - The airline operates flight segments of 5.5 hours long and over.
  • Multiple Aircraft - The airline operates multiple aircraft types.
  • Multiple Classes of Service - The airline offers more than one class of service Eg: Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class.
  • Multiple Fares Available at One time - Multiple prices or fares are available in a single class for a ticket Eg: Economy Saver, Economy Flex, Economy Restricted.
  • Ticket Issuance - The airline is able to issue electronic tickets or a paper document compliant with industry (IATA) standards that permits the provision of carriage for a passenger. For reference, a system or airline is considered 'ticketless' when it uses non-standardised methods to permit the provision of carriage for a passenger.
We add up a score for each airline based on these attributes and then classify them according to the following table:
    Score From-To Classification
    8-10 Full Service Carrier
    4-7 Hybrid Carrier
    0-3 Low Cost Carrier

We have also identified two further airline business models that constitute a significant part of the industry:

Franchise Carriers are those airlines that operate under the flight numbers of other airlines. This is a particularly significant model in the United States where many regional routes of the major airlines are actually operated by specialised regional carriers such as Skywest or Republic. It is very important to identify these relationships in order to derive a true understanding of the market for commercial IT systems. In general the commercial systems in such cases are procured and paid for by the major carrier.

Charter Airlines do not sell individual seats but rather sell large blocks of space, including whole aircraft. In Europe this is an important business model in association with the large Vertically Integrated Tour Operators (VITOs) which dominate the leisure market in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. Many airlines have an element of charter business in their portfolio and some of the north European charter operators now operate part of their capacity in a "Low Cost Airline" mode. We classify an airline as "Charter Carrier" if more than 90% of its capacity is sold as whole-aircraft or large-allocations and as "Charter/Scheduled Airline" if the figure is between 35% and 90%.

The importance of classifying airlines by business model is that different business processes drive different requirements for applications systems. Airline business model drives the application portfolio which drives the supply of systems. We have structured our research to recognise this.

Schedules and Equipment

We have taken a snapshot of airline schedules and equipment as an indicator of the network and operating complexity of the airlines we cover. The parameters we identify include the number of flights operated per carrier, the number of airports to which they fly, the number of different aircraft types they use and the number of code-sharing relationships in which they participate.


We list start ups by region, location, investment, planned operational dates, fleet, routes and staff where the information is available. We follow public announcements and industry information. The startup database is updated on a yearly basis. We also hold contact information for these airlines where available, if interested please contact us.

After 12 months and assuming they remain in business start up airlines move to our general airlines section.


Airline groups can include airlines which are connected through common ownership, common branding, sub-brands, cross investment, de-nationalisation, mergers, acquisitions, venture capital investments or holding companies.


In the "Applications" tab of the database we have constructed a view of the airlines' critical IT systems. We illustrate how these systems interconnect and provide a high level description of their functionality.

We have focused on the commercial systems that comprise and augment the Passenger Services System (PSS), also known as the Passenger Management System (PMS). The core components are defined as Reservations (Web, agency and direct), Ticketing, Fares and Departure Control. We also consider key support systems including revenue integrity, revenue accounting and revenue management.

Our goal in subsequent releases will be to map the entire airline application portfolio in detail. We will add deeper granularity to the description and scope.

Specifying the application portfolio allows us to define terms and also to identify market shares for the key vendors


In the Vendors tab we have provided information on the key vendors operating in the PSS and extended space.

We have provided market shares based on the systems deployed. Where the market shares are stated in terms of passengers boarded, they are based on latest figures for passengers boarded.

In the Reports tab we allow the user to construct customised market share reports. It is possible to determine the market shares of suppliers of the applications that we track by country, region, business model and airline tier or any combination.

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