Airports Climbing Megahubs Ranks Indicate Areas of Industry Growth

Friday 11th August 2023 was the busiest day for global aviation over the past year (September 2022-August 2023), with 108,185 scheduled flights . Using data from that day, OAG has analyzed the 100 largest airports in the world and the 100 largest international airports, to produce the Megahubs 2023 Report, a ranking that demonstrates the effectiveness of the world’s leading international airport hubs as global and regional connecting points and as gateways into domestic markets.

The Most Connected Airport in The World is London Heathrow

A consistent presence in our Busiest Global Airport rankings, London’s Heathrow (LHR) airport now reclaims its title as the number one Global Megahub, having last held the position in 2019. Many of the leading airport hubs’ success relies on the presence of one major airline operating a large share of flights, and LHR is no exception, with British Airways operating a 50% share of flights.

Though it doesn’t quite make the Top 10 Largest Global Airports by scheduled capacity, second place on our global connectivity ranking is New York’s JFK airport, which has surged up the table from 18th place in 2019. Other airports making a notable climb up the Top 50 Global Megahubs list since 2019 include:

•    Tokyo Haneda (HND), from 22nd to 5th place, with All Nippon Airways the dominant carrier.
•    Kuala Lumpur (KUL) climbed 8 places from 12th to 4th. AirAsia operates 34% of its flights.
•    Istanbul Airport (IST), where Turkish Airlines is the dominant airline, moves from 17th to 7th place.
•    Manila Ninoy Aquino (MNL) has come up from 29th to 15th place, with Philippine Airlines operating 32% of flights.
•    Dubai Airport (DXB), from 24th to 16th place and with Emirates the dominant airline (39%).

Asia Pacific Key for Low-Cost Connectivity, US Domestic Market Holds Potential

When we look at the Top 25 Megahub airports for international low-cost connections, 52% of the list are airports in Asia Pacific, including Kuala Lumpur (KUL) which places first on the ranking. This reflects the dominance of low cost carriers in South Asia where almost two thirds of flights (63%) are operated by low cost carriers, and in South East Asia, where over half of all flights (53%) are on low cost airlines.  Though Kuala Lumpur also took the top spot in 2019, there are five new Megahubs in the Top 25 since then:

•    Manila Ninoy Aquino (MNL) is in 3rd place despite not making the list in 2023.
•    Singapore Changi (SIN) is in 4th place, with Singapore Airlines the dominant carrier (31%). 
•    Don Mueang (DMK) in Bangkok, taking 17th place and with Thai AirAsia the dominant carrier (52%).
•    Orlando airport (MCO), where Southwest Airlines operate 21% of flights, is in 21st place.
•    Mexico City (MEX) is in 22nd place, with Aeromexico the dominant carrier (58%).

An area with potential to see further low-cost carrier growth is the US domestic market, where 20 of the Top 25 airports’ dominant carriers are one of five US legacy airlines, and four – Las Vegas (LAS), Chicago Midway (MDW), Dallas (DAL) and Baltimore (BWI) – have low-cost Southwest Airlines as the carrier with the largest market share. Low cost carriers currently operate 34% of all flights in North America. 

EMEA’s Top 10 Megahubs Are Most Connected

Europe, Middle East and Africa’s Top 10 Megahubs achieve the highest average international Connectivity Index of any region, with an average score of 179. 

When we look at individual regions, each of the number one Megahubs also appears in the Global Top 20:

•    Asia Pacific: Top ranked Kuala Lumpur (KUL) airport places 4th in the Top 50 Global list.
•    Europe: London Heathrow (LHR) takes first place here and globally.
•    Middle East & Africa: Dubai (DXB) airport sits at the top of this table, and is 16th globally.
•    Europe, Middle East & Africa: We know where LHR sits globally, but 2nd on this list is Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS), which is 3rd on the Global Top 50 Megahubs.
•    North America: New York (JFK) is the most connected US international airport and is 2nd globally.
•    Latin America: Mexico City (MEX) is the top of the five airports that meet Megahubs criteria, and is in 18th place on the Global Top 50.

While the number of potential connections at London Heathrow in the period selected still remains slightly below 2019 levels, the airport’s reclaiming of the global top spot reinforces the picture painted by the Megahubs 2023 report; one of a recovering and ever-evolving market. As we’ve pointed out before, the rise of LCCs continues, and despite Asia still being on the road to recovery - we await the return of China’s airports to 2019’s connectivity levels - there are seven Asian airport hubs in the Global Top 20, an encouraging sign of the resilience and adaptability of airports worldwide.


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