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2016 Global 2000: The World's Largest Transportation Companies

Corinne Jurney

Moving people and packages around the world is big business, and these days much of that business happens in the air, judging by the rankings of transportation companies on the 2016 Forbes Global 2000 ranking of the world's largest public companies.

Four of the five largest companies in transportation take to the skies, starting with United Parcel Service, which ranks 146 on the overall list. Over the 12 months to April 22, when Global 2000 data was locked in, UPS generated $58.1 billion in sales and $4.8 billion in profits. Its market capitalization inched up to $93.3 billion. Rival FedEx (#260 overall) is the eighth largest in the transportation sector with its comparatively meager $49.5 billion in sales, $1.1 billion in profit, and $44.6 billion market cap. FedEx slid 37 spots from 2015's rank.

To see the list of the top 20 transportation companies in the world, click through here:

The FORBES Global 2000 is an annual ranking of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, based on equally-weighted measures of revenue, profits, assets and market value. The world's 25 biggest transportation companies include 9 airlines from 6 countries, 9 railroads from 5 countries and 3 air couriers from 2 counties.

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Following UPS among transportation companies are Delta Air Lines (#146 overall), railroad leader Union Pacific (#172), American Airlines (#210) and German air carrier Deutsche Post (#228). Here’s how we crunched the numbers.

While UPS is a force on both roads and runways, ever-increasing demand for faster delivery by consumers and businesses has led its air business to outpace ground services, according to its annual report.

Full Coverage Of Global 2000 Continues Here

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The plunging price of oil has boosted some transportation companies in the last year, but UPS' revenue gains were limited by falling energy prices, since it typically passes fuel surcharges on to customers. FedEx's revenue was also offset by lower fuel surcharges and unfavorable currency exchange rates.

A Boeing 757 takes off following Delta Airlines' emergence from bankruptcy at a at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)

The second-largest transportation company, Delta Air Lines, benefited from falling oil prices, and leapfrogged 169 positions on the overall list FORBES Global 2000 list, to become the 169th largest company in the world, with $4.7 billion in profit. It beat out American Airlines even though American posted higher sales and profit, at $7.6 billion and $4.1 billion respectively. (Delta has more in assets and is valued has a much-higher market capitalization, $34 billion to $34.4 billion.)

The biggest drop on the list was Danish shipping company Møller-Maersk (#306), which slid 158 spots from last year. Management attributes its 2015 performance to a widening supply-demand gap across most of its businesses especially in shipping in emerging markets. Its oil-related business was negatively impacted by the recent crude oil glut that put downward pressure on oil prices. The price of oil bottomed below $30 a barrel earlier this year.

More on Forbes: World's 20 Biggest Transportation Companies In 2016

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