Qatar’s England Ban Shakes Up World’s Top International Routes

As we reveal the world’s top-20 largest international routes, we see the number-one is surrounded by controversy. Europe and the US feature seven times, but Europe would also appear four times if it were not for the soon-to-start Qatar-England ban. If Puerto Rico were a sovereign nation, Orlando to San Juan would be the world’s leading international route.

Qatar Airways A380
Doha to Heathrow was to be the world’s 20th-largest international market in the first week of summer, but that was before the new ban was announced. Photo: Getty Images.

The world’s top-20 international markets have been revealed, with Moscow Domodedovo to Simferopol leading the pack. Given the geopolitical situation between Russia and Ukraine, this is controversial, so readers may prefer Cairo-Jeddah as the world’s number-one instead.

European airports feature just three times in the top-20, OAG data indicates, with US airports only one ahead. But it’s really all about the Middle East, with 11 appearances, mainly because of Dubai.

The data is for the first week of the (northern hemisphere) summer season, which kicks off on March 28th. It is the latest available and it’s at the airport-level only. Results would naturally be quite different at the city-level.

The top-20 are shown below:

FromToWeekly seats (two ways)
Moscow DomodedovoSimferopol35,404
New York JFKSantiago (Dominican Republic)28,408
Hong KongTaipei27,891
Shanghai PudongTaipei25,309
Istanbul AirportTehran Imam Khomeini25,227
New York JFKSanto Domingo25,036
CancunDallas Fort Worth23,304
London HeathrowNew York JFK21,366
Istanbul AirportMoscow Vnukovo19,504
Kuala LumpurSingapore18,892

Domodedovo-Simferopol #1, but controversial

Moscow Domodedovo to Simferopol will have 94 weekly departures and up to 14 per day – as in the screenshot, below – across Ural Airlines, S7 Airlines, Nordavia, and Red Wings. For all of Moscow to Simferopol, that rises to 153 weekly departures with seven airlines.

Flights to Simferopol
Moscow Domodedovo to Simferopol is top by total seats in the first week of summer. Image: Google Flights.

New York JFK to Santiago top for the US

Ranking fifth-largest worldwide, with just over 28,000 non-stop seats in this week, is the first US airport-pair: JFK to Santiago. The 1,475-mile sector will see 74 weekly departures – up to 11 daily – across JetBlue and Delta.

This market has grown hugely, with nearly double (98%) the weekly departures than in the same week in 2019, and 6% more than its previous high in the past decade. Of course, this says nothing of likely performance, whether by fares, loads, or otherwise.

Santiago is one of four Dominican Republic routes from JFK to operate this week, joining Santo Domingo (ninth-largest globally) and, while far smaller, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.

New York JFK to Santiago Dominican Republic
JFK to Santiago in the Dominican Republic is the US’ top international route. Source: OAG

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Doha to Heathrow was #20, but no more

Filling the last spot in the top-20 list was Doha to Heathrow, which was to have over 19,000 seats in this one week. This has been cut to reflect the new ban on non-stop flights between Qatar and England, which was announced on March 16th and begins on March 19th. In its place is now Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

World's top-20 international routes
The importance of the Middle East in particular and Asia generally is clear for the top-20. Image: GCMap

Orlando to San Juan would be #1

A special mention must go to Orlando to San Juan. If Puerto Rico were a sovereign nation, this airport-pair would be the world’s number-one international. It expects 112 weekly departures and up to 16 daily, a quarter more than in 2019, with the US spring break helping.

Orlando to San Juan flights
Orlando to San Juan has been a large market for a long time, and it’ll have up to 16 daily departures in the first week of summer. Image: Google Flights.

Southwest entered this market in 2013 following its acquisition of AirTran, with Frontier joining four years later. This market is now a true battleground between low-cost, hybrid, and ultra-low-cost carriers.

What surprises you most about the top-20 global list? Comment below!