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Mapping The World's Busiest Air Routes

Modern air travel gives us almost unlimited possibilities for getting around.

Whether you are acting on your wanderlust to explore new and exotic destinations, hopping to a familiar island for a well-deserved vacation, or jetsetting to London in the comfort of business class, the modern airline industry can get you almost anywhere you need to go.

But, as Visual Capitalists' Jeff Desjardins notes, while flying allows us to have unique experiences, it’s often the case that we are all coming and going from many of the same popular destinations. As a result, the world’s busiest air routes have hundreds of flights per day connecting important city pairs together.

Ranking City Pairs

Today’s chart pulls data from OAG, which has compiled a detailed report ranking the busiest domestic and international air routes from around the globe.

It’s worth noting that the data is over the period of March 2018 to February 2019, and it excludes carriers that operate fewer than 500 routes per year.

Let’s dive in to see which city pairs have the most air travel between them.

Domestic Routes

Domestic routes are far more popular than international routes globally. According to the report, there are 15 domestic routes that have more operating flights per year than any international route anywhere.

Here’s a look at the top 10 domestic routes:

The busiest domestic route might be a surprise, unless you are familiar with Asian geography.

With almost 80,000 annual flights, the 300-mile hop between Seoul and Jeju Island in South Korea is the busiest air route in the world by a large margin. Overall, there are seven carriers competing on it each day, with over 200 daily flights available between them.

What makes Jeju so popular?

Known as the “Hawaii of South Korea”, this volcanic island is an extremely popular vacation destination within the country, and it hosts roughly 15 million guests per year.

International Routes

On an international basis, the busiest route has almost 50,000 fewer flights per year than the Jeju-Seoul city pair listed above. Not surprisingly, this route – and many other top international routes – are also located in the Asia Pacific region.

The short hop between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur takes only one hour, and it connects two major Southeast Asian commercial hubs. The route has 41 flights per day between eight airlines, making it one of the most competitive routes globally.

The busiest international route outside of the Asia Pacific is between Toronto and New York (LaGuardia) with 17,038 annual flights. Interestingly, it only has three competing carriers – the lowest of any of the top 10 routes.

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