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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 then 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 providing analysis of current industry developments. Documents in this section represent our view of underlying trends and expectations behind the data. They are available for subscribers to download but remain proprietary to T2RL.

The insight section is organised into three broad strands which are News, First View and Detailed Reports.


The news section highlights breaking news stories from a variety of sources that illustrate our areas of expertise. Items in the news section are always based on information that is in the public domain. In broad terms these include:

Changes to the market landscape for supply of Airline Passenger Services Systems (PSS), e-commerce, airline distribution including IATA's New Distribution Capability (NDC), Loyalty systems, Revenue Accounting, Revenue Management and Revenue Integrity technology.
And more specifically we note:
  • Substantial shifts in market share
  • Significant technology changes and innovations
  • Strategic moves which have the premise to lead to wider changes
  • Mergers, partnerships, acquisitions, re-organisations and restructuring of technology vendors
  • Large scale changes to the geographical availability of vendor solutions
  • Changes in regulation and/or industry standards that affect the provision of technology.

First Views

Since its foundation in 2005 T2RL has created immediate analysis of the most significant stories as First Views. These pieces are short notes, typically two to three pages, in which our analysts take a news story and go deeper into what lies behind it. We suggest motivations for actions that have been taken and the consequences that are likely to follow. Every First View has a final section in which we allow ourselves the luxury of a little speculation on what longer-term impact might follow from today's events. In these speculation sections we often see the first hints of changes that subsequently become major trends in the industry.

Detailed Reports

These reports provide both broad and deep coverage of specific aspects of the market for airline technology services. Most of them are produced on a periodic basis and draw heavily on the detailed information that we maintain in the database. They are more than simple presentations of facts and figures as they all contain substantial interpretation and analysis to expose the underlying trends behind the numbers.

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 sixteen 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 established several methods of determining the best possible estimation. This gives the following hierarchy from most reliable to least. The database has an indicator to show which method has been used to arrive at the final number.

  • Reported: Reported passenger volumes are recorded from primary sources, civil aviation authorities, airport statistics, airline traffic results, annual reports and press releases. T2RL prioritises volumes from country specific bureaux over and above other sources due to their precision and not rounding off figures.
  • Calculated: From partial statistics available i.e. half year / quarterly / monthly traffic. Calculated accuracy may include airlines that commenced, suspended and ceased operations in the course of the year. If only the airline group total is reported, calculated accuracy may also be used for franchise carriers.
  • Projected: Projected traffic is derived from reported data and is based on indications of passenger growth or decline for the carrier during the year.
  • Estimated: T2RL estimates traffic for around 10% of carriers based on historical traffic trends, airline performance, business model, fleet size, route network and other indicators. The majority of our estimated passenger volumes are for charter carriers that do not publicly report their volumes.

Around 90% of our statistics are reported or calculated 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 where necessary.

We also indicate the adjustment needed to allow for the practice of airlines operating under another airline's identity in a franchise relationship. This practice is most common in the USA where regional routes are often operated by specialist operating airlines which carry the branding of their major airline partners. It also occurs when an airline sets up a subsidiary with a separate Operating Certificate but identical branding in order to operate in a foreign market.

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.

For the purpose of categorising fleet size we recognise four aircraft sizes;
  • Widebody = More than 1 aisle
  • Narrowbody = Single aisle with 100 or more seats
  • Regional = 50 to 99 seats
  • Sub 50 = Under 50 seats

Business Model

Recent years have seen rapid evolution in the business model of passenger airlines. Thirty years ago all airlines operated in much the same manner. They had extensive interline relationships and distributed their product primarily via travel agents. In today's world 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.

More recently the pure low-cost business model has given 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 low-cost or hybrid airlines.
  • Codeshare - A codeshare agreement is defined as an airline business arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight, each applying its own flight number.
  • Connecting Services - This is defined as the airline offering its 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 using traditional processes. It does not include airlines that only have GDS connectivity via an API that provides a direct link to the airline's PSS.
  • 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. This includes owned and leased aircraft.
  • 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.

The T2RL business model of Franchise also includes those airlines that operate scheduled flights under leasing contracts under the AOC of the marketing carrier, for example CityJet in Europe.

Franchise carriers also include those entities that operate under their parent airline branding and use their technology. Passenger numbers for these airlines are generally publicly reported with those of the parent airline. For example, easyJet Switzerland is identified as a franchise of easyJet.

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.

Where airline numbers are not reported separately as a group T2RL also allocates these as franchise airlines with passengers allocated to the parent airline.

Charter Airlines 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 most 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. We track the number of flights operated per carrier and the number of different aircraft types they use.

Glossary and Definitions

For a glossary and acronyms of industry terms click here
For a detailed explanation of segments, legs PBs, PAX, bookings and PNR click here


We list start-ups by region, location, investment, planned operational dates, fleet, routes business models and AOC status where the information is available. We follow public announcements and industry information. The start-up database is updated on a quarterly basis. We also hold contact information for these airlines where available. If interested please contact us.

Once the start-up begins operations, it is added to our regular airline database and classified as an active airline. However, it will also remain in our start-up database for 12 months from the date it commences, marked as an operational start-up.


Airline groups may 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 airline's 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 further detail. We will add deeper granularity to the description and scope and reflect new categories of application as they become established.

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 in the database.


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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