29 October 2013

The world's ten busiest air-travel routes in 2012

The data in chart form is at Amadeus:
Among other key findings, the study reveals that 22% of all global air travel is concentrated on just 300 origin and destination ‘super routes’, each of which carries over 1 million passengers annually. Furthermore, 69% of all global air travel is made on major routes with 100 thousand annual passengers...
So, where are those "super routes"?  VizualStatistix has plotted the top ten on a map, which I've placed below the fold to challenge you to name any one of those top ten routes before peeking (i.e. name the cities the planes fly between).

"Note that the lines are not geodesics; I curved path #7 so that you could see path #6 beneath it."


  1. Wow -- I had New York to London as one of the top ten. Not even close!


  2. Got me on the less is more & super doesn't mean big.

  3. I first thought some would surely be SF -- LA or NY -- DC or something, until I realized that a) flying short distances in the US is a lot of work for not much gain, and b) there really aren't that many people who live that far from work or other business ventures to bother. Then I thought that Tokyo certainly had to be on at least one leg of one route. But wow - some of the others are surprising to me!

  4. I'm with you Gem, I immediately thought NY to London as well.

    As an Australian - very surprised to see Melbourne-Sydney on there too!

    There is a debate going on in Australia at the moment about whether we should put in a high-speed railway up the east coast (Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane). I would think this certainly makes a case for it...

  5. Seoul - Jeju isnt' surprising when I think about it. It's basically the most popular in-country vacation spot for Koreans and anyone visiting Korea.

  6. from reddit a few months ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_busiest_passenger_air_routes#United_States_.282009.29

    "It's worth noting that the US figures would fit into the top 10 if they grouped all the airports in a metro area together. Since several large metro areas in the US have multiple airports serving them (NYC, SF, Miami), the individual airport routes have lower totals.
    For example, the NYC - Miami route would be 2nd in the world, but since both regions have several airports, it doesn't make the list."

    also from the same reddit comment section: 3 of the 4 Japanese cities are on different islands, so limited by mode of transport to boat or plane. other cities have good train connections.

    1. Nach -

      Now this may be word parsing, but.... you may be on to something.

      The title of the map is NOT "The Top 10 Busiest Air Routes out of One Airport At Each End." And it lists CITIES, NOT airports. So the map is bogus or the title is bogus.

      Doing the math, based on that link (metro area to metro area), the Top Ten ROUTES are:

      1. Tokyo to Sapporo - 15.04 M
      2. Seoul to Jeju - 10.18 M
      3. Tokyo to Fukuoka - 9.74 M
      4. Sydney to Melbourne - 9.37 M
      5. New York to Miami - 8.75 M
      6. Beijing to Shanghai - 8.27 M
      7. Hong Kong to Taipei - 8.17 M
      8. Tokyo to Naha - 7.91 M
      9. Sao Paolo to Rio - 7.49 M
      10. Tokyo to Osaka - 7.45 M


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