In the past few decades, the airline industry has grown tremendously, flights in the UK are now a key part of the UK economy. A number of international UK airports act as major air traffic hubs for Europe and beyond, particularly London's airports and Manchester Airport. Regional airports have also seen growth in more recent years since the advance of no-frills airlines.
Passengers flying to or from the UK are typically carried by British airlines, of which there are about forty. Among the largest are British Airways and easyJet, which collectively account for almost half of all passengers flown on UK airlines.
Domestic flights within the UK are fast and frequent, operated predominantly by budget airlines offering cheap flights, like Ryanair, easyJet and flybe. As a result, thanks to these airlines and flight comparison tools, it can sometimes be cheaper to fly than take a long-distance train journey. Some of the most popular domestic routes are between the south of England and Scotland. Concerning international flights, routes to Spain receive the highest passenger volumes, followed by routes to the US and then Ireland.
Based out of London Luton Airport, easyJet is the UK’s largest airline, providing services on over 600 routes to 32 countries. Over 2013, it carried over 60 million passengers and is one of the largest low-cost carriers in Europe. Founded in 1995, following the deregulation of the European air travel market they are now a household name and are listed on the FTSE 100 index. What they do differently from other budget airlines is that they are willing to pay the higher airport costs that come with flying to more conveniently located airports in the hope that people will prioritise convenience over cheap fares alone. The most flown to destinations on easyJet's schedule are London, Paris and Milan.
Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline, and carried over 7 million passengers over the course of 2013. In short, what this means is that they have filled the niche demand for flights between regional destinations that are not deemed sufficiently large for mainline services. In the UK, its largest base is located at Birmingham Airport though it also operates out of Belfast, Manchester and Southampton. In total, it operates almost 200 routes to destinations all across Europe.
Jet2: Starting operations in 2003, Jet2 is now one of the biggest low-cost providers in the UK and offers services to 58 destinations around Europe. Their base is at Leeds/Bradford International.
Monarch: The oldest UK airline to still be operating under their original name, Monarch are based in London Luton and offer flights to short-haul holiday destinations.
Wizz Air: A Hungarian low-cost airline which now serves 97 destinations across 35 countries and carries more than 15 million passengers each year.
Vueling: Spain's second largest airline, Vueling has its hub in Barcelona El Prat airport and flies to over 100 destinations in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Germanwings: A low-cost airline based in Cologne Bonn airport and wholly a subsidiary of Lufthansa.