Emirates is set to overtake US giant Delta within the next 12 months to become the world’s second-biggest airline.

The Dubai-based carrier will be on course to surpass United, currently ranked number one in the world, if it continues to expand at the same pace seen in 2012, when it boosted capacity by 18.4%, according to the Capa Centre for Aviation.

United became the world’s biggest airline through its 2010 merger with Continental.

Emirates will launch new routes to Warsaw on February 6 and Algiers on March 1, with more routes due to be announced.

Capa ranks long-haul carriers by available seat kilometres (ASK), a measure of an airline’s capacity, which is calculated by multiplying the number of seats on aircraft by the distance flown.

British Airways retained its spot as the seventh-biggest airline globally ahead of Air France, although the UK airline’s sister carrier, Iberia, was listed separately. Lufthansa remained Europe’s biggest long-haul carrier.

Turkish Airlines was one of the fastest-growing aviation companies last year with capacity up 24%, according to the ASK measure.

The Capa research came as Emirates began operating from a new $3 billion concourse at Dubai airport, specially dedicated to its fleet of Airbus A380s. The new concourse will bolster Dubai’s ambition to become the largest international air hub in the world by 2018.

Dubai airport is currently ranked fifth in international league tables, one place behind Heathrow.

Capa said Atlanta remained the world’s biggest airport last year but it is only marginally ahead of Beijing.