For most people, international leisure travel is a thing of the past. Covid-19 travel restrictions mean that the number of air passengers remains very low around the world and that the routes that now qualify as the busiest in the world are not what you would expect.
Travel analyst OAG has been analyzing the 2021 numbers to find out who is flying, when and where.
Last month, Dubai-London Heathrow was the highest capacity international route, with more than 190,000 seats scheduled in January. Dubai’s popularity as a quarantine-free winter sun destination for British travelers ended when the United Arab Emirates was added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries affected by new travel bans.
With Dubai-London out of the top 10, the Busiest International Air Route is now Orlando-San Juan, with 135,244 seats scheduled for February.
The three-hour trip from Florida’s Orlando International Airport to San Juan, the capital of the US territory of Puerto Rico, is classified by the OAG as international, although US citizens do not need a passport to make the trip.
Both cities are popular tourist destinations, Orlando is home to Walt Disney World Resort, and Puerto Rico is a former Caribbean retreat chosen by Americans.
The second busiest international air route links Dubai with Delhi (129,683 seats), while Cairo-Jeddah (128,665) ranks third.
The top 10 national routes worldwide were dominated by Asia except for the Jeddah-Riyadh routes of Saudi Arabia (504,840) and Cancun-Mexico City of Mexico (374,972) outside the region.
The number one domestic route was the Jeju-International from South Korea to Seoul-Gimpo (1,119,037). The only other route to break the million mark was Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (1,085,472).
There were significant reductions in Chinese domestic capacity this month, says OAG, and travel in the domestic route triangle between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou fell from the top 10. Capacity on the Beijing-Shanghai route has fallen by 60% while Shanghai -Guangzhou has fallen 55%.
European travel restrictions mean that European destinations only appear twice in the top 10 of international routes and not in the top 10 of domestic routes. The Paris-Orly to Pointe-a-Pitre de Guadeloupe (118,594) and Fort-de-France de Martinique (104,923) routes are ranked number four and seven respectively.
The four busiest US domestic routes all started from Atlanta: Fort Lauderdale (215,248) in first place, followed by Orlando, Miami and Tampa.
The world’s busiest international air routes
1. Orlando-San Juan (135,244)
2. Delhi-Dubai (129.683)
3. El Cairo-Jeddah (128.665)
4. Paris Orly-Pointe-a-Pitre (118,594)
5. Tehran Imran Khomeini-Istanbul Ataturk (110,936)
6. New York JFK-Santiago (DO) (108.876)
7. Fort de France-Paris Orly (104,923)
8. Cairo-Riyadh (103,922)
9. Seúl Incheon-Tokio Narita (100,676)
10. Cancún-Dallas Fort Worth (98,045)
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