The Scandi Triangle – Europe’s Busiest International Routes

We recently reported that Barcelona-Madrid is the busiest route in Europe. This domestic route has an average of 10,000 seats available every day. However, when it comes to international routes, London has an airport on five of the top ten busiest international routes, and three Scandinavian destinations form a triangle for three of the top five.

SAS airbus getty images
Scandinavian destinations count for three of the top five busiest destinations. Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to Europe’s busiest international routes, the top spot goes to the route connecting Dublin in Ireland to London’s Heathrow Airport. Around 2.3 million seats are available on this route every year. Heathrow features in the top ten four times, making it the most popular on the list.

Aside from Dublin, Heathrow’s busiest European routes are to Frankfurt, Amsterdam. At the same time, it’s most active international route also includes a flight to New York’s JFK, which has 1.9 million seats available every year. Last year, the flight from Heathrow to New York was the busiest with over 14,000 flights every year. Gatwick airport also appears in the top ten with just under 1.9 million seats available between Gatwick and Barcelona.

Heathrow runway queue
Heathrow is one of Europe’s busiest airports and appears five times on the top ten list. Photo: Getty Images

Scandinavian stronghold

Aside from London’s strong presence in the top ten, Scandinavian destinations dominate the list of Europe’s busiest routes. According to OAG’s report, the triangle connecting Stockholm to Oslo, Copenhagen to Oslo, and Stockholm to Copenhagen takes the Second, third, and fourth place respectively as the busiest international routes in Europe. Around 2.3 million seats are available yearly on each route.

This may come as a surprise considering Sweden has strict eco-regulations when it comes to flying, and many Swedish people are actively choosing not to fly for environmental reasons. However, it seems that many people are happy about traveling on short-haul flights. The rail options connecting the most popular Scandinavian destination are not as strong as other rail networks in Europe.

Interestingly, despite being the busiest set of routes in Europe, the routes don’t face particularly tough competition from airlines. Norwegian and SAS have a lock on most Scandinavian routes with airBaltic and Lufthansa offering little competition.

SAS vs Norwegian
Despite being so popular, the Scandinavian routes don’t face much competition from airlines. Photo: SAS

The rest of the list

OAG has acknowledged that while its information was correct, the effect of COVID-19 and the radical change sit caused in the aviation industry may mean that things have changed. Particularly with international travel restrictions meaning commercial travel has been difficult, next year could show a very different set of routes. However, for now, the whole of the list, including the number of available seats per year, looks like this:

  1. Dublin to London – 2,354,872
  2. Stockholm to Oslo – 2,330,906
  3. Copenhagen to Oslo – 2,306,309
  4. Stockholm to Copenhagen – 2,261,222
  5. Frankfurt to Heathrow – 2,173,638
  6. Amsterdam to Heathrow – 2,110,023
  7. New York to Heathrow – 1,917,331
  8. Barcelona to Gatwick – 1,900,736
  9. Stockholm to Helsinki – 1,846,136
  10. Simferopol to Moscow – 1,831,035

What do you think of Europe’s busiest routes? Any surprises? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.