Revealed: World's busiest routes continue to grow

The busiest air routes on earth have been revealed in a new study published by Routesonline, with the number one growing passenger numbers by almost 5 percent. The research has been revealed as the 25th World Routes gets underway in Adelaide, Australia.

With more than 14.1 million passengers flying between the destinations in 2018, the route between Seoul's Gimpo Airport (GMP) and Jeju (CJU) off the coast of the Korean Peninsula remains the busiest on earth.

The 450 km domestic route attracted a total of 14,107,414 passengers during the year, representing a rise of 4.8 percent compared with the previous 12 months. However, this was slower than the 9.4 percent growth enjoyed in 2017.

The route transports mainly leisure passengers from South Korea’s dense capital city to the island of Jeju, famed for its white sandy beach resorts and volcanic landscape.

Together the eight airlines operating the route offered an incredible 82,000 flights, OAG Schedules Analyser data shows, equating to about 225 each day or one every 9 minutes 20 seconds.

The research, conducted by Routesonline, ranked the top 100 busiest routes in the world using passenger data from Sabre Market Intelligence.

Seoul Gimpo - Jeju carried 4.4 million more passengers than the second busiest route which connects Sapporo (CTS) and Tokyo (HND). A total of 9.7 million passengers flew between Sapporo and Tokyo Haneda in 2018, a rise of 11.1 percent compared with the previous 12 months.

It overtook Melbourne (MEL) - Sydney (SYD) to take second position. The Australian domestic route grew at a slower rate, with 9.25 million passengers representing a 1.7 percent year-on-year increase.

Of the routes in the top ten, nine of them are domestic. The only international route making the list is Taipei (TPE) - Hong Kong (HKG) in eighth, despite passenger numbers falling by 3.8 percent to 6.48 million.

Looking at the top ten international routes, all ten of them are in the Asia-Pacific region, compared with eight a year ago, while the densely populated special administrative region of Hong Kong features in six of them.

Jakarta (CGK) - Singapore (SIN) is second in the list with 4.8 million passengers, followed by Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Singapore (SIN) with 4.29 million and Shanghai (PVG) - Hong Kong (HKG) with 4.05 million. Hong Kong (HKG) - Bangkok (BKK) completed the top five with 3.49 million passengers.

The two non-Asia-Pacific routes to drop out of the top ten are New York (JFK) - London (LHR), which experienced a 4.3 percent drop in traffic, and London (LHR) - Dubai (DXB), which fell by 17 percent following Qantas’ decision to reroute its Sydney - London flights via Singapore.

The research also ranked the air routes in the top 100 which have increased passenger numbers at the fastest rate year-on-year. Topping the list of fastest growers is the domestic route linking Palembang, a city in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province, and the county’s capital Jakarta.

More than 2.74 million passengers travelled on the route in 2018, a rise of 24.1 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Overall the route is the 70th busiest in the world.

The busiest routes in the world were calculated by using passenger 2018 numbers provided by Sabre Market Intelligence.

Top ten domestic routes

  • All of the top ten domestic routes are in the Asia-Pacific region, three of which are in Japan. They all involve Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Sapporo (CTS), Fukuoka (FUK) and Okinawa (OKA)
  • The fastest-growing route in the top ten is Denpasar Bali (DPS) - Jakarta (CGK), connecting the Indonesian tourist island with the country’s capital. It grew at a rate of 11.8 percent year-on-year to total 5.54 million passengers, up from 4.95 million in 2017
  • Average base fare: $149
  • Furthest route in the top ten: Okinawa (OKA) - Tokyo (HND) at 1,153km
  • Shortest route in the top ten: Seoul (GMP) - Jeju (CJU) at 449km

Top ten international routes

  • Taipei (TPE) - Hong Kong (HKG) is the busiest international route despite passenger numbers falling by 3.8 percent to 6.48 million. The route also ranked as the eighth busiest in the world overall
  • All ten of the routes are in the Asia-Pacific region, compared with eight a year earlier, while the densely populated special administrative region of Hong Kong features in six of them
  • The two non-Asia-Pacific routes to drop out of the top ten are New York (JFK) - London (LHR), which experienced a 4.3 percent drop in traffic, and London (LHR) - Dubai (DXB), which fell by 17 percent
  • Average base fare: $229
  • Furthest route in the top ten: Seoul (ICN) - Hong Kong (HKG) at 2,068km
  • Shortest route in the top ten: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Singapore (SIN) at 296km

Busiest route by region

  • Asia-Pacific: Seoul (GMP) - Jeju (CJU) with 14,107,414 passengers
  • Europe: London (LHR) - New York (JFK) with 2,846,321 passengers
  • Americas: Cancun (CUN) - Mexico City (MEX) with 4,885,602 passengers
  • Africa: Cape Town (CPT) - Johannesburg (JNB) with 4,508,214 passengers
  • Middle East: Jeddah (JED) - Riyadh (RUH) with 5,526,110 passengers

World Routes 2020

The 26th World Route Development Forum
Milan, Italy  5 - 8 September 2020

Find out more

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