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List of World’s Busiest International Routes Comprised of Short Hops

List of World’s Busiest International Routes Comprised of Short Hops
Jeff Edwards

UK-based flight analytics firm OAG has released a list of the busiest international airline routes around the globe and the results are somewhat less glamorous than one might expect.

Those times when business travel lands a business traveler at Omaha Eppley Airfield (OMA) or Akron–Canton Airport (CAK), it’s easy to imagine that the rest of the world is jetting off to exotic corners of the world like London, Tokyo or Berlin. It turns out, however, that most international travel may be much less exciting than it sounds.

According to the UK-based aviation industry consulting firm OAG, even when passengers travel abroad, they mostly tend to stay relatively close to home. Of the world’s 20 busiest routes, only one could be properly considered a true long-haul overseas journey. According to the just released OAG Global Ranking Report: Top 20 Busiest International Routes, flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and London Heathrow Airport (LHR) rank as the 16th busiest route worldwide.

The vast majority of the ranking is made up of air routes between destinations within Asia. The top seven spots on the list are in fact all flights that begin and end on the continent. The route between Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) is the busiest on the planet in terms of the sheer number of daily flights. The route between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) follows as a close second.

Within North America, the route between New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is ranked at number eight, while the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to YYZ run sneaks on to the list in the final slot. Meanwhile, within Europe only the route between LHR and Dublin Airport (DUB) and the route from LHR to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) made the cut.

OAG’s data, compiled over the 12 months ending in February 2018, skews away from long-haul international flights towards regional workhorse routes for a number of reasons. The report considered busiest routes based on the number of daily flights rather than passengers flown and since long-haul flights are more likely to utilize much larger aircraft, this put transatlantic and transpacific routes at a slight disadvantage. Also, popular destinations such as New York, London and Paris each have multiple international airports splitting daily flights among sometimes dozens of routes. Finally, a long-haul traveler is much more likely to have a layover – perhaps a few hours on the ground at Keflavík International Airport (KEF). Still, it seems that for most air travelers, the jet set lifestyle is a lot less Ibiza and a lot more Toronto.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (3)


  1. makrom

    May 9, 2018 at 6:22 am

    But “the sheer number of daily flights” doesn’t really mean much.
    Number of daily pax would be more meaningful.

  2. party_boy

    May 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Agreed. TPE-HKG is quite often served by widebody jets. I’ve flown that route on 777, 747, 767, a330, a340 etc. KUL-SIN, are almost exclusively are narrow body jets.

  3. onobond

    May 10, 2018 at 12:16 am

    Agree on the relevance of number of pax. The two top routes are similar in requiring a medium/short hop over water, but crossing the Strait of Malacca by boat is a tedious operation, to Taiwai propably requiring a cruise. So in both instances, flying would be the only real means of transport

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