Asia is home to nine of the world’s ten largest routes… in fact it is home to 19 of the top 25

1 November, 2018

All the latest travel and aviation forecasts highlight how the Asian region will help drive growth over the coming decades as the economic axis of the world moves east. But, Asia is already home to nine of the world's largest air routes by seat capacity. In fact it is home to 19 of the top 25 route pairs and home to the world's largest domestic and international links.


  • Asia is home to nine of the world's largest air routes by seat capacity. In fact analysis of winter schedules shows it is home to 19 of the top 25 route pairs;
  • The domestic South Korean link between Seoul's Gimpo International Airport and Jeju International Airport on Jeju Island is the world's largest route by capacity;
  • Top 25 global route pairs dominated by domestic markets: Hong Kong - Taipei Taoyuan and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta - Singapore Changi largest international routes.

A closer look at planned flights for the current northern hemisphere 2018/2019 winter schedule shows that Asia is home to the world's top three route pairs. Leading them are the domestic South Korean link between Gimpo International Airport, in the capital Seoul, and Jeju International Airport, in the capital of Jeju Province, the largest city on Jeju Island.

It is followed by the Japanese domestic routes linking Haneda International Airport in Tokyo with New Chitose Airport, serving the Sapporo region on the island of Hokkaido, and with Fukuoka Airport, the principal airport on the island of Kyushu.

The only non-Asian route to break into the top ten is the fourth ranked Australian domestic route linking Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport with Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.

The rest of the top ten comprises key domestic routes between major population and business centres in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi), China (Beijing and Shanghai) and India (Delhi and Mumbai); the world's biggest international route between Hong Kong International Airport and Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and links between Tokyo Haneda and Okinawa Naha in Japan and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International and Surabaya Juanda International in Indonesia.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted last week that more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years will come from the Asia Pacific region. Growth is being driven by a combination of continued robust economic growth, improvements in household incomes and favourable population and demographic profiles.

This will see China will displace the United States of America (USA) as the world's largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take third place after the USA, surpassing the UK around 2024, Indonesia will climbing from the world's tenth largest aviation market today to the fourth largest by 2030, while Thailand will debut in the world's top ten markets around a similar time.

The dominance of the Asian market among the world's leading route pairs by capacity is clear to see in the table below. Alongside the Sydney - Melbourne link, the only other non-Asian routes to make it into the top 25 ranking during the analysis period are Australia's Sydney - Brisbane market and the domestic links between Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport and Riyadh King Khalid International in Saudi Arabia; Sao Paulo Congonhas and Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont in Brazil; Johannesburg OR Tambo International and Cape Town International in South Africa; and Mexico City Benito Juárez and Cancun International in Mexico.

CHART - Asia dominates the world's largest routes, a region predicted to be home to more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 yearsSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG (data for W2018/2019 as at 31-Oct-2018)