With global travel booming and airlines posting record passenger traffic coupled with China’s well-documented thirst for international travel, it comes as no surprise that many of the world’s busiest air routes are served by airports in Asia. While Asia holds the undisputed lead as a powerhouse aviation market, according to new research by flight data provider OAG, it is worth noting that three of world’s busiest routes are served North American airports.
Two of those routes shuttle passengers back and forth on cross-border flights between the United States and Canada. What’s fueling the demand?
It could be that Canada is drawing record numbers of international travelers, including those from the United States. Or it might be the resurgence of interest in international travel by Canadians, after a few lean years prompted by a weak economy and unfavorable currency exchange rates.
Or perhaps it’s Air Canada’s push to become a dominant connecting airline within North America. The airline, which added 30 new routes last year, and carried a record 48 million passengers last year is clearly on a growth trajectory. It also holds the largest share of both the busiest routes connecting the United States and Canada.
In North America, the busiest route—also the eighth busiest in the world—is the LaGuardia (LGA), Toronto (YYZ) airport pairing, which operated 16,956 scheduled flights between March 2017 and February 2018, according to OAG. Air Canada, which holds the largest market share with 53 percent of the 1.8 million seats on that route, also holds the honor of being the fastest-growing carrier to serve that route.
New York served as the final destination for 71 percent of passengers traveling from Toronto to LaGuardia. Top airports for connecting passengers included Richmond (RIC), Charlotte (CLT), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), Virginia (ORF) and Palm Beach International (PBI) airports.
Across town, John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport serves as a bookend to the second-busiest route in North America (and the 16th busiest in the world), with its connection to London Heathrow (LHR). Some 13,888 flights were serviced over the 12-month period, with British Airways holding the largest capacity—42 percent of the 3.6 million seats—and Delta Air Lines clocking in as the fastest growing airline on that route.
Again, New York was the final destination for the majority (61 percent) of passengers traveling from London. The top five connecting airports included Orlando (MCO), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), San Juan (SJU), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), respectively. From Heathrow, Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) and Delhi, India (DEL) were the top forwarding destinations for passengers traveling from JFK.
Toronto Pearson International Airport made a second appearance on the busiest routes list, placing 20th for its connections with Chicago O’Hare (ORD), which saw 13,100 flights over 12 months. Again, Air Canada was both the fastest-growing and top carrier on this route, serving 36 percent of the 1.2 million seats. From O’Hare, San Francisco (SFO) and Phoenix (PHX) were the most popular forwarding destinations.
World’s Busiest Routes
The busiest route in the world? Some 30,537 annual flights were made between Kuala Lumpur (KUI) and Singapore (SIN). Malaysia-based, low-cost carrier AirAsia had the biggest toehold, handling some 25 percent of the 5.3 million seats on that route.
In second place was the route connecting Hong Kong with Taipei, Taiwan, which saw 28,887 flights last year. Cathay Pacific was the largest handler, holding some 45 percent of the 8.1 million seats on that route. For passengers traveling to Taipei, Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO) were the top forwarding destinations
Hong Kong also held four of the other top 20 routes, including service to Shanghai (PVG), Seoul Incheon (ICN), Singapore (SIN) and Beijing (PEK).
—Kuala Lumpur-Singapore; 30,537 flights
—Hong Kong-Tapei; 28,887 flights
—Jakarta-Singapore; 27,304 flights
—Hong Kong-Shanghai; 21,888 flights
—Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur; 19,849 flights
—Seoul Incheon-Osaka; 17,488 flights
—Hong Kong-Seoul Incheon; 17,075 flights
—New York LaGuardia-Toronto; 16,956 flights
—Dubai-Kuwait; 15,332 flights
—Hong Kong-Singapore; 15,029 flights
—Bangkok-Singapore; 14,859 flights
—Bangkok-Hong Kong; 14,832 flights
—Hong Kong-Beijing; 14,543 flights
—Dublin-London Heathrow; 14,390 flights
—Osaka-Taipei; 14,186 flights
—New York JFK-London Heathrow; 13,888 flights
—Osaka-Shanghai Pudong; 13,576 flights
—Seoul Incheon-Tokyo Narita; 13,517 flights
—Amsterdam-London Heathrow; 13,170 flights
—Chicago-Toronto; 13,100 flights
The information was provided by OAG, based upon flight frequency tracked from March 1, 2017, to February 28, 2018.