Emirates has been named the fourth biggest airline in the world in a ranking of total scheduled passenger kilometres flown last year.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) performance statistics for 2017, released on Thursday, revealed that the Dubai-based airline recorded 289 million passenger kilometres during the year.
The carrier was only beaten by American Airlines (324 million), Delta Air Lines (316.3 million) and United Airlines (311 million), IATA said.
It added that Emirates was ranked the second biggest airline for cargo last year, behind Federal Express.
IATA said Emirates SkyCargo flew 12.7 billion freight tonne kilometres in 2017 as globally cargo markets showed a 9.9 percent expansion in freight and mail tonne kilometres.
Worldwide annual air passenger numbers exceeded four billion for the first time last year, supported by a broad-based improvement in global economic conditions and lower average airfares.
At the same time, airlines connected a record number of cities worldwide, providing regular services to over 20,000 city pairs in 2017, more than double the level of 1995.
"In 2000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months. Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure and education. Aviation is the business of freedom," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Airlines carried 4.1 billion passengers on scheduled services, an increase of 7.3 percent over 2016, representing an additional 280 million trips by air.
Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers while the Middle East took a 5.3 percent market share with 216.1 million passengers, an increase of 4.6 percent over 2016.