Monday, August 18, 2014

What’s the Busiest Airline Route in the World?

Thrillist has a piece today declaring the airline route that’s “the most popular/busiest in the world” Hong Kong – Taipei.

At 4.9 million passengers last year.

Wait just one second.. That didn’t sit right. That’s only about half the passengers as the route with the greatest passenger volume. And it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what’s going on here.

The data being reported was for the busiest international routes by passenger volume. All of the many routes with more passengers are domestic ones.

Here are the busiest international routes by passenger volume last year:

And here are the busiest routes with most passengers, without excluding domestic flights.

(Passenger count reported in thousands.)

The latter data is showing 2012 passengers, and the chart with international routes only is passenger totals for 2013, but order of magnitude this should be correct.

Six of the eight busiest routes in the world are Asian domestic routes. A seventh – also dubbed busiest international one in the world – only counts on international depending on whom you ask (flying between a Chinese ‘special administrative region’ and the Republic of China).

Interestingly, this list doesn’t include any US domestic routes. Department of Transportation data suggests that 3 US domestic routes might squeak into the top 10.

San Francisco – Los Angeles transports the most people, and that’s followed by another Los Angeles route — to New York — and another New York route — to Miami.

Interestingly, though not on the list above, New York – Chicago actually has more daily flights between the two metropolitan areas than any other domestic route.. albeit with smaller aircraft and not always full.

Unquestionably, the most important US market is New York followed by Los Angeles. San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami are key as well though a notch below.

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