What’s Interesting About 2019’s Busiest International Routes?

Have you ever thought about which routes around the world see the most traffic? What would your guesses be? Every year, the organization OAG (Official Airline Guide) puts out a publication detailing the world’s busiest routes. Their 2019 report had some interesting findings. Here’s what it revealed…

While Singapore Changi barely made the top 20 for busiest airports, it certainly features among the busiest routes for 2019. Photo: Simon_Sees via Flickr

The list of busiest international routes

  1. Kuala Lumpur – Singapore: 30,187 flights
  2. Hong Kong – Taipei: 28,447 flights
  3. Jakarta – Singapore: 27,046 flights
  4. Hong Kong – Shanghai: 20,678 flights
  5. Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur: 19,741 flights
  6. Seoul Incheon – Osaka: 19,711 flights
  7. New York LaGuardia – Toronto: 17,038 flights
  8. Hong Kong – Seoul Incheon: 15,770 flights
  9. Bangkok – Singapore: 14,698 flights
  10. Dubai – Kuwait: 14,581 flights
  11. Bangkok – Hong Kong: 14,556 flights
  12. Hong Kong – Beijing: 14,537 flights
  13. New York JFK – London Heathrow: 14,195 flights
  14. Tokyo Narita – Taipei: 13,902 flights
  15. Dublin – London Heathrow: 13,855 flights
  16. Osaka – Shanghai: 13,708 flights
  17. Hong Kong – Singapore: 13,654 flights
  18. Chicago O’Hare – Toronto: 13,503 flights
  19. Seoul Incheon – Tokyo Narita: 13,517 flights
  20. Osaka – Taipei: 13,325 flights

What’s so interesting about it?

All about the Asia Pacific region. All top five routes are in east/southeast Asia. And of these routes, three are firmly in southeast Asia. In fact, as OAG points out, 15 of the top 20 routes are all in the Asia Pacific region. Furthermore, the organization says that, on average, seven carriers operate on these routes.

Do a random search for flights between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and your search engine will produce quite a long list of options. At least eight different airlines fly this route alone – ranging from low-cost carriers to full-service airlines. Ethiopian Airlines even joins in as a fifth-freedom carrier. In fact, for this 40-minute flight, at least four airlines use widebody aircraft on daily flights between the cities.

The Middle East route in the middle. At number 10 – right in the middle of the list – is the only route that operates within the middle east region. To me, this was surprising as I never considered Kuwait to be that much of a destination or that large of an airport. However, on this route, there are four different airlines: two budget carriers and two full-service airlines.

In fact, Emirates operates an astounding 41 weekly flights on this route – as many as six per day! All using its Boeing 777 aircraft.

The longest route on the list. OAG’s publication also includes lists that are strictly for long-haul, medium-haul, and short-haul routes. This list looks at the busiest routes regardless of distance.

While most of these routes are actually regional flights, New York JFK to London Heathrow stands out as the longest on the list. Of course, it’s no surprise that this route makes the list. Indeed, it connects the two economic powerhouses and financial capitals of two powerful nations.

Flying this route are essentially four airlines: Delta, American, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways. However, the list is a little misleading as both cities on this route have multiple airports. Imagine if we combined all of the different New York-London routes (including out of Newark and Gatwick), it would go much further up in the rankings!

Virgin A350
Virgin is just one of numerous airlines flying the 13th busiest route in the world – New York JFK to London Heathrow. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The OAG’s 2020 report should be coming out fairly soon and we’re very excited to see the latest numbers.

Were you at all surprised by this list? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.