Joining Up The Dots - Asia's Megacities

Imagine two cities with populations of 31 million and 25 million, respectively. It seems hardly credible that they would have no direct air services between them given that the distance is easily flown non-stop by today’s aircraft. But that is the case with Shanghai and Karachi, and it’s not an isolated instance.

There are no non-stop services between Dhaka, population 27 million, and Tokyo, population 37 million, or between Beijing and Dhaka, each with a population of 27 million.

Across Asia there are numerous other city-pairs which are not connected by direct scheduled air services despite having the sort of population size that anywhere else would make such services a foregone conclusion. The reasons are a complex mix of a lack of historical ties and trading links as well as the relatively low propensity to fly due to limited disposable incomes. But as Asian economies grow, some of those factors will change.

The United Nations has been looking at megacities, those cities with a population of over 10 million, and has concluded that every one of the top seven largest megacities by 2030 will be in Asia. OAG has done its own analysis which looks at how well connected the top ten Asian cities of the future are today. Any gaps in air services surely represent open door opportunities for airlines today. What we find is that each of these cities has a population of over 20 million today but that of the 45 possible connections between those ten cities, only 27 have direct scheduled air services now. So there are at least 18 unserved routes where the local market at either end of the route exceeds 40 million people. Can we guess where some of those hundreds of new aircraft on the order-books of Asian carriers might end up flying?

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