Up To 122 Flights: What Are The World’s Busiest Routes Today?

With 122 flights on the day of writing, Seoul Gimpo to Jeju is the world’s busiest route. A very short domestic link of just 280 miles (450km), Jeju is an island off the country’s south coast that is known as the Hawaii of Asia. It hopes to attract 45 million annual tourists by 2035. Where else is in the top-10 list today?

Korean Air A330
Korean Air and Asiana deploy widebodies from Seoul Gimbo to Jeju. Image: Fedor Leukhin via Flickr.

The world’s top-10 busiest routes today

There are nearly 13,000 routes operated worldwide on November 30th, based on analyzing schedules information from Cirium. Between them, they have over 70,000 flights for nearly 3,000 every hour and 49 every minute. They also have an average of 149 seats per flight.

Topping these ~13,000 is Seoul Gimpo to Jeju, with 122 outbound flights (double if you’d prefer both ways), well over twice as many number-two, Delhi to Mumbai. As you’d expect, domestic routes lead the most-served table, with all but one in Asia and the Middle East. Note that this looks at airport-pairs rather than city-pairs, which somewhat affects things.

Not only do these 10 have many flights (although fewer than pre-pandemic), but they also have an average of 217 seats per departure, well over the norm thanks to widebody use. It’s mainly because of domestic Japan and China services, primarily Beijing Capital to Shanghai (272 seats).

  1. Seoul Gimpo to Jeju; 122 departures
  2. Delhi to Mumbai; 54
  3. Riyadh to Jeddah; 48
  4. Shanghai Hongqiao to Shenzhen; 44
  5. Beijing Capital to Shanghai Hongqiao; 43
  6. Makassar to Jakarta; 43
  7. Tokyo Haneda to Sapporo;
  8. Cancun to Mexico City; 40
  9. Seoul Gimbo to Pusan; 40
  10. Guangzhou to Shanghai Hongqiao; 39
Air China Boeing 747-89L B-2487
Some 36 of the 43 flights from Beijing Capital to Shanghai are by widebodies today, including Air China’s B747-8. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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Seoul Gimpo to Jeju

The first flight to Jeju was scheduled to leave Seoul Gimpo, the country’s main domestic airport, at 06:05, with the last 15 hours later at 21:05. Spread across the whole operating day, there’s an average of eight departures per hour. The period between 13:00-13:59 has the most (13).

Asiana, Korean Air, Jeju Air, T’way Air, Jin Air, Air Busan, Fly Gangwon, Air Seoul, and Hi Air all operated the route today. Half of the flights were by the two dominant carriers, Korean Air and Asiana.

Standing out is one flight by Hi Air’s ATR-72s, the only turboprop to be used. Indeed, while the market is highly dominated by the B737-800, B737-900, and A321, the B767-300ER and A330-300 are used, with ten flights between them. This helped to ensure high seats per flight of 194.

The world's busiest routes
When writing, all of these aircraft are en route between Gimpo and Jeju and vice-versa. Highlighted is an Asiana A330-300. Image: Radarbox.com.

Most other regions come very close

Falling just outside the top-10 are the busiest routes within Latin America, Australasia, Africa, and the US/Canada. Bogota to Medellín has 38 departures, Melbourne to Sydney 37, Cape Town to Johannesburg 36, and both Boston to Washington National and LaGuardia to Chicago O’Hare, also 36.

Because of strong regional jet use to enable high frequency to appeal to higher-yielding travelers (and to protect slots), Boston to National has just 104 seats per departure. The market is dominated by American and JetBlue (29 departures between them), with Delta offering a further seven. The Embraer 190 and 175 have two-thirds of departure, with the A319 (still well used in the US) the rest.

Widerøe utilizes the Dash-8-100 from Oslo to Trondheim. Photo: Teemu Pesonen via Wikimedia.

Europe isn’t quite as close

Only Europe isn’t quite as close to being in the top-10. Its leading airport-pair is the very short 226 miles (364km) between Oslo Gardermoen and Trondheim. It has 27 departures today across Norwegian, Flyr, SAS, and Widerøe. This day last year, Wizz Air operated the route, one of many of its short-lived services within Norway.

Have you flown any of the routes mentioned here? Let us know in the comments.