Luigi vs Airflow: 4 Comprehensive Differences

Abhinav Chola • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

With the ever-increasing data production and consumption, companies are facing challenges in managing their data and processes. Moreover, long hours and resources are wasted just for monitoring all the data-related activities in an organization. To overcome such bottlenecks, businesses today are relying on automated tools that can simplify their Workflow Management and optimize the Data Monitoring process. Airflow and Luigi are 2 such tools.

Airflow and Luigi both are Python-based tools that can serve companies in managing their excessive workloads. However, these tools differ in the style of implementation and the functionalities which they offer. This creates a lot of confusion among users while deciding between Airflow and Luigi.

This article will introduce you to both Airflow and Luigi and dive into a thorough comparison between these tools. It will compare Luigi vs Airflow concerning 4 key parameters and will also provide you with the similarities of these 2 tools. Read along to learn more about Luigi and Airflow and choose the tool that is best for you!

Table of Contents

What is Luigi?

Luigi vs Airflow: Luigi Logo
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Luigi is a popular module of Python programming language that enables you to build advanced pipelines to accomplish batch jobs. This module finds application in tasks such as Dependency Resolution, management of Workflows, Data Visualization, etc. Luigi was designed to address all the troubleshooting that is typically required in long-running batch procedures. Moroever, Luigi allows you to chain multiple tasks and automate them over time to minimize failures. Businesses generally leverage Luigi for tasks such as long-running Hadoop jobs, exchanging data with databases, facilitating machine learning algorithms, and many more.

Key Features of Luigi

Luigi is popular among Python Developers because of its following features:

  • Database Dump: Luigi simplifies your work of dumping data into databases and extracting it when required. This way Python Developers don’t have to worry about integrating additional tools for a straight word database exchange.
  • Scalability & ML Support: Luigi provides you robust support when it comes to running Machine Learning algorithms. Moreover, it offers you real-time throughput and elasticity using which you can scale it to millions of events( per month).
  • Robust Pipelines: Luigi facilitates long-running pipelines and can accommodate thousands of tasks in one go. Furthermore, it comes with Command-line integration and manages dependency resolution seamlessly.
  • Interactive UI: The Luigi server operates on a Web-based User Interface for managing workflows and generating visualizations.

To learn more about Luigi, visit here.

What is Airflow?

Luigi vs Airflow: Airflow Logo
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Apache Airflow offers you a platform to manage your workflow automation. This open-source platform contains excellent scheduling & availability. You can use Airflow to seamlessly write, schedule, and continuously monitor numerous workflows. Today companies depend on Airflow to streamline complex computational workflows, construct huge data pipelines, and simplify your ETL tasks. Airflow relies on DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) for constructing and representing the user’s workflow, and every DAG is further divided into Nodes and Connectors. These Nodes utilize Connectors to communicate with the other Nodes and build a dependency tree to design useful workflows.

Key Features of Airflow

Apache Airflow possesses the following features that can help you construct useful workflows:

  • Dynamic Integration: Airflow deploys code written in Python Programming Language at its backend processing during pipeline generation. Python offers multiple Operators that can help you in creating DAGs and generating workflows.
  • Extensible: Airflow’s open-source availability allows you to modify its operators & executors to suit your needs. Furthermore, you can extend Airflow libraries to customize the level of abstraction.
  • Elegant User Interface: Airflow has Jinja templates that construct data pipelines. These templates are easy to use and can develop explicit workflows. Furthermore, Apache Airflow lets you parameterize the scripts for your workflow in a hassle-free manner.
  • Scalable: You can scale Airflow up to infinity. This means that you are free to define any amount of workflows. Moreover, it offers you a message queue that can easily orchestrate your daily workflows. 

To learn more about Apache Airflow, visit here.

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Luigi vs Airflow: Key Differences

The following parameters will provide you with a solid grasp of the Luigi vs Airflow discussion:

Luigi vs Airflow: Scaling Power

Scalability is not a strong characteristic of Luigi. The primary reason for its lack of scalability is that tasks are coupled so tightly with cron jobs that it is not possible to scale one without affecting the other. Furthermore, the quantity of members working on cron jobs does not leave the bandwidth to deploy them in any other field. This constraint Luigi’s scalability, even though it may not affect the business directly.

Airflow on the other hand possesses the LocalScheduler feature. This way,  users can easily separate tasks from cron jobs and then scale up according to their requirements. to scale. Luigi has no such tools and to scale in Luigi, users must split tasks into separate sub-pipelines via a complex process. Therefore, Airflow is the clear winner in terms of scalability.

Luigi vs Airflow: User Convenience

Luigi vs Airflow: User Convenience
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Luigi has a straightforward UI that is simple to understand but does not offer much functionality. In terms of restarting and running pipelines, Luigi has its limitation and benefits. Luigi simplifies the process of restarting a failed pipeline once you’ve navigated to the failure. However, once your pipeline is completed, it’s difficult to rerun it with Luigi.

Airflow’s UI on the other hand is superior to Luigi’s native UI. Airflow enables you to 

interact with ongoing tasks and executions in a much-advanced manner than Luigi. Furthermore, Airflow’s Celery executor tool allows you to easily restart failed pipelines and even rerun a fully completed one.

Luigi vs Airflow: Functionality

Airflow and Luigi are useful tools but both lack in certain domains. For instance, Luigi does not provide the scalability that most businesses require for their workflow management. You may not notice this limitation when you start running tasks and after that, it could be too late. 

You can also be limited by the lack of calendar-based scheduling in Airflow. While this might not restrain every business, still there is a high chance that you might find it a deal-breaker. Furthermore, data visualization options on both Airflow and Luigi are limited. 

Luigi vs Airflow: Components

Luigi vs Airflow: API Logo
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  • Scheduler: Airflow contains a central scheduler that designs the required workflow schedule. Moreover, with Airflow, you can perform tasks independently using the LocalScheduler to suit your business needs. However, you can’t leverage a calendar scheduler and the provided LocalScheduler has minimum flexibility. Luigi, on the other hand, deploys a central scheduler and a calendar scheduler to provide you with great flexibility. 
  • API: If you are a new user of Luigi, you may struggle with its API, which offers minimal functionality. Airflow on the other hand provides much simpler APIs to view logs, run codes, and manage data. Luigi can also provide these features, but you need to put extra effort into setting up such APIs.
  • DAG: Airflow enables you to view numerous DAG tasks before starting the pipeline execution. However, Luigi doesn’t offer any such service. This implies, businesses that depend on DAGs as a screening mechanism for their ecosystems, cant rely on Luigi.  

That’s it! These were the main parameters regarding the Luigi vs Airflow discussion.

Similarities between Luigi & Airflow

Luigi and Airflow the two workflow management tools are similar in the following aspects:

  • Airflow and Luigi both use Python as their native language and rely on the same data-structure standards.
  • Airflow and Luigi both leverage a single node to generate a directed graph. Moreover, both of these tools let you define tasks, write commands, and set up conditional paths according to your requirements.
  • Airflow and Luigi both enable you to perform visualization on data pipelines. Furthermore, you can use both these tools for free as they are open-source. 


This article introduced you to Luigi and Airflow along with their key features. It also explained the key difference between these workflow management tools. Moreover, the article listed a few similarities between Luigi and Airflow. With these Luigi vs Airflow comparisons, you can decide which tool out of Airflow and Luigi is better suited for your business. 

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Share your views on Luigi vs Airflow discussion in the comments section!

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