2024’s Top Air Routes, Is Your City Among the Busiest?

The absence of New York, London, and Dubai in the top 10 is a stark reminder of the massive demand for air travel within the Asia-Pacific region.

January: A Quiet Yet Active Month for International Flying

Following the holiday season and amidst tightened budgets, January traditionally witnesses a slowdown in international travel. Corporate traffic dwindles, and many vacation destinations face suboptimal, if not sub-zero, weather conditions.

Despite these factors, tens of millions of people continue to traverse the globe by air. But which routes experienced the highest traffic this month? Utilizing the latest data from analytics firm OAG, Skift unveils the international flights that defied global trends and kicked off the year with a surge.

1: Hong Kong to Taipei

Leading the charts for international capacity in January is the route from Hong Kong to Taipei. With a travel duration typically under 90 minutes, this route is favored by both business and leisure travelers.

Major airlines such as Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, and EVA Air frequently deploy their largest widebody jets, increasing both passenger capacity and cargo transport. In January 2024 alone, over half a million seats were available on this route.

2: Cairo to Jeddah

Securing second place is the Cairo to Jeddah route, one of two Middle Eastern routes in the top 10. This link serves as a crucial trade route and a gateway to holy sites, with up to eight scheduled airlines connecting the two cities. Low-cost carriers like Air Arabia and flyadeal compete with flag carriers such as EgyptAir and Saudia on this route.

3: Seoul to Tokyo Narita

Occupying the third position is Seoul‘s first appearance among the top routes, with over 428,000 seats offered in January between Incheon International Airport and Tokyo Narita.

This route between the two Asian megacities is favored by both budget airlines and legacy carriers, boasting a total of 10 different airlines servicing the route. Remarkably, this ranking is achieved despite the availability of additional travel options to Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Exploring the Top 10 Busiest International Routes

  1. Hong KongTaipei (HKG-TPE)
  • Seats: 546,276
  • Description: The proximity between Hong Kong and Taipei, coupled with the short travel duration, makes this route immensely popular for both business and leisure travelers. With major airlines deploying their largest jets, passenger capacity and cargo transport are significantly boosted.
  1. CairoJeddah (CAI-JED)
  • Seats: 468,103
  • Description: Serving as a vital trade link and a gateway to holy sites, the route between Cairo and Jeddah witnesses significant traffic, with both low-cost and flag carriers vying for passengers.
  1. Seoul IncheonTokyo Narita (ICN-NRT)
  • Seats: 428,238
  • Description: Despite the availability of alternative routes to Tokyo Haneda Airport, the link between Seoul Incheon and Tokyo Narita remains popular among travelers, with a diverse range of airlines servicing the route.
  1. Kuala LumpurSingapore Changi (KUL-SIN)
  • Seats: 411,074
  • Description: Connecting two major Southeast Asian hubs, this route is vital for both business and leisure travel, with a large number of seats offered by various airlines.
  1. Seoul IncheonOsaka Kansai (ICN-KIX)
  • Seats: 408,982
  • Description: Another key route from Seoul Incheon, connecting to Osaka Kansai, highlights the strong air connectivity within East Asia.
  1. DubaiRiyadh (DXB-RUH)
  • Seats: 384,044
  • Description: This Middle Eastern route is crucial for both business and religious travel, with significant capacity offered by airlines connecting Dubai to Riyadh.
  1. JakartaSingapore Changi (CGK-SIN)
  • Seats: 352,438
  • Description: As a major link between Indonesia and Singapore, this route sees substantial traffic, facilitated by both budget and full-service carriers.
  1. BangkokSeoul Incheon (BKK-ICN)
  • Seats: 343,100
  • Description: Serving as a vital link between Thailand and South Korea, this route witnesses consistent demand from both business and leisure travelers.
  1. BangkokHong Kong (BKK-HKG)
  • Seats: 336,323
  • Description: The route between Bangkok and Hong Kong highlights the strong air connectivity between two major Asian cities, with a significant number of seats available for travelers.
  1. Tokyo NaritaTaipei (NRT-TPE)
    • Seats: 325,577
    • Description: Connecting Tokyo Narita to Taipei, this route serves as an important link between Japan and Taiwan, offering travelers multiple options for air travel.

Source: OAG, Jan 30, 2024

Note: The OAG data is based on available seat capacity, not the number of passengers carried.