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Busiest Air Routes in the World and Stateside in the USA

  • Air Travel
  • Natasha Young
  • 5 minutes

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Air travel is not just about flying from one place to another. It’s about experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and expanding your horizons. Now that we are almost past the pandemic restrictions, traveling is back with a bang.  Thanks to social media, we are all now travel enthusiasts. The airports are filling up fast and getting busier than usual. While you are planning for your summer vacay, here are some stats on the busiest air routes in the world and stateside in the USA to refer to. 

Busiest air routes in the world – An overview 

All of the top ten domestic routes in the world, as assessed by airline capacity (seats), are in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, with eight routes in Asia, one in Australia, and one in Saudi Arabia. Domestic flights are the world’s busiest air routes. Nonetheless, travelers in the United States cannot compete with Asia’s high demand for air travel. There, the busiest route can transport more than three times as many people in a month as the busiest route in the United States. 

 According to data provided by air travel analytics firm OAG [1]for the month of April, the route linking Gimpo airport in the South Korean city of Seoul and the country’s Jeju island is the world’s busiest. Jeju (CJU) – Seoul (GMP) is the world’s busiest domestic route, with 1.1 million seats in April 2023, despite having 9% fewer seats overall in April than in March. The “Hawaii of South Korea” is well-liked by domestic tourists. 

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City gets to be the next busiest in line this March. It falls to third in April with 917,814 seats, while Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) to Tokyo Haneda (HND) rises to second with 973,404 seats. This is one of three Japanese routes that reach the Top 10 domestic routes list. Recently, Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) to Shenzhen (SZX) was replaced in the Top 10 domestic routes by Jakarta (CGK) to Denpasar-Bali (DPS), which is rated 10th with 639,1010 seats. 

Source: Statista

Busiest air routes in the USA – An overview  

Tourism and entertainment sites appear frequently among the world’s and the United States’ most flown routes, while island areas also have an advantage. In the United States, Las Vegas (LAS) to Los Angeles (LAX) is the best route in terms of capacity this month, with 311,191 seats, moving up from third position last month. Capacity growth on this route is 5% for the month, with an 8% increase in average capacity each day. 

With 302,892 tickets, Honolulu (HNL) to Kahului (OGG) drops this month from first to second place. The route’s overall capacity is dropped by 4%, although the average number of seats each day remains the same. Only one other route in the Top 10 U.S. domestic routes has seen capacity increase for the month, Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO), which has 6,258 more seats, a 2% increase over March 2023. 

Shorter routes and international flights 

Some island routes have also popularized short flights because ground transportation is either unavailable, too complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. While the inter-Hawaiian route is the shortest, the world’s busiest route between Seoul and Jeju island is the third-shortest. In that regard, the aircraft route connecting the largest cities in the United States over about 2,500 miles is odd. Given that the most common aviation routes over land are typically 400-700 miles long, the inclusion of the JFK-LAX route highlights the United States’ remarkable reliance on air travel to keep the country connected. 

International flights are more expensive and frequently more complicated than domestic flights. Hence they attract fewer passengers. This April, the busiest route connects Egypt’s capital Cairo with Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the gateway to Mecca’s Muslim pilgrimage site. This month (Hajj season), about 450,000 people will fly on the route, which is still more than the busiest U.S. route. 

Why are these air routes so busy? 

These air routes get the busiest because of various reasons. There are air routes between major business centers which are more convenient for business travel. These air routes also touch base with tourist destinations. And some air routes serve remote or isolated areas that are difficult to reach by other means of transportation. 


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Bottom line 

These air routes are critical components of the global transportation network, linking people and businesses all over the world. These routes are distinguished by frequent flights, large aircraft, and strong seat demand and are frequently dominated by major business hubs or attractive tourist attractions.  

Despite the lingering challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the busiest air routes are expected to experience a resurgence in the coming years as travel restrictions get liberal and demand for air travel rises.  As the airline industry adapts to changing travel patterns and preferences, it is clear that air travel will continue to be an important component of global connectivity and economic growth for many years to come. 

[1] Busiest Flight Routes in the World | Busiest Air Routes | OAG. “Busiest Flight Routes in the World | Busiest Air Routes | OAG,” n.d. https://www.oag.com/busiest-routes-right-now.

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