Busiest Routes 2020

When we started preparing the data for the 2020 version of OAG’s Busiest Routes back in late February the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was still to come. We have to admit as the events of the last few weeks unfolded we considered shelving this year’s edition.  The old saying that ‘a change is as good as a rest’ came to mind so with that thought we decided to press on, offering you the chance to escape from the current situation for an hour or two and take a look back into some of the most interesting global routes in 2019.  

We also know that once this is behind us and the industry starts its journey towards recovery, having a benchmark as to how things were will be important.  We all know that things might not return to what they were for some time yet, but there will come a time as we move forward, that we need to be informed by the past. 

As you know, we love data at OAG, so in this edition we bring you insights not only into the busiest global and regional domestic and international routes, but also the world’s longest and shortest routes and those with most competition – the toughest.    Even with our years of experience in the industry it still came as a bit of a surprise to us to discover so many routes operating over very short distances. With the top 10 shortest domestic and international routes globally averaging between 42-54 miles, it seems unfathomable that these routes might continue to operate without some geographic (e.g. a river or island) imperative for doing so.

The world’s longest routes have a stronger rationale for continued connectivity, albeit for some markets the question is whether a big enough market exists to sustain a direct service. To what extent the COVID-19 event will impact on passengers’ willingness to transit via large international hubs in future is as yet unknown, but maybe we’ll see an increase in more longer direct services in future.

In this edition we also look at the toughest routes globally and by region. Incredibly the most competitive route operates in China with 12 carriers, and the average across the Top 10 both domestically and internationally is 9.  These routes do typically operate with high levels of daily frequency.

In 2019 the South Korean route ferrying passengers across the Korea Strait from Seoul to Jeju remained the world’s busiest.  While we don’t know yet what 2020’s busiest routes will be, we know that the drivers of demand for some of the world’s busiest routes are only temporarily suppressed, so anticipate this route will remain the busiest domestic route in the world for some time to come.

With interesting snippets like these, we encourage you to escape for a moment from your day, and take a look at the full listings.