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The Busiest Flight Route in the World Is to an Island You’ve Probably Never Been to

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By Talia Avakian, Travel + Leisure

While the U.S. is home to the world’s biggest aviation market, the Asia-Pacific region dominates when it comes to the most popular air routes.

The study, conducted by aviation network Routes Online, used scheduling data from the OAG Schedules Analyser and 2017 passenger numbers from Sabre Market Intelligence to determine the 500 busiest routes across the globe.

The 280-mile journey from Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport to the island of Jeju was the world’s most in-demand air route, with a total of 13,460,305 passengers in 2017.

The route, which also took top place in Routes Online’s 2017 study, sees an average of about 37,000 passengers each day on about 180 scheduled flights. (That's an average of about one flight every eight minutes.)

Jeju is home to beach resorts and a volcanic landscape with craters and lava tubes to explore. Visitors can climb the shield volcano of Hallasan, South Korea's largest mountain, or take a relaxing walk along the island's country roads to admire cottages made out of black lava. A flight from Seoul starts at about $94.

The route between Seoul and Jeju had more than 4 million more passengers than the world’s second busiest route, from Melbourne to Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport, with 9,090,941 passengers.

Nine of the world’s top 10 busiest routes were in the Asia-Pacific region, and only one of the top 10 flights is international.
The Top 10 Busiest Scheduled Airline Routes in the World
  1. Jeju (Jeju International Airport)—Seoul (Gimpo International Airport): 13,460,306 passengers
  2. Melbourne (Melbourne Airport)—Sydney (Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport): : 9,090,941 passengers
  3. Saporro (New Chitose Airport)—Tokyo (Haneda Airport): 8,726,502 passengers
  4. Fukuoka (Fukoaka Airport)—Tokyo (Haneda Airport): 7,864,000 passengers
  5. Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport)—Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport): 7,129,943 passengers
  6. Beijing (Beijing Capital International Airport)—Shanghai (Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport): 6,833,684 passengers
  7. Hanoi (Noi Bai International Airport)—Ho Chi Minh City (Tan Son Nhat International Airport): 6,769,823 passengers
  8. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Taiwan (Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport): 6,719,030 passengers
  9. Jakarta (Soekarno–Hatta International Airport)—Surabaya (Juanda International Airport): 5,271,304 passengers
  10. Tokyo (Haneda Airport)—Okinawa (Naha Airport): 5,269,481 passengers

Among international routes, eight of the 10 busiest were within the Asia-Pacific region. London's Heathrow Airport was the only European airport in the top 10.
Top 10 Busiest Scheduled International Air Routes in the World
  1. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Taiwan (Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport): 6,719,030 passengers
  2. Jakarta (Soekarno–Hatta International Airport)—Singapore (Changi Airport): 4,810,602 passengers
  3. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Shanghai (Pudong International Airport): 4,162,347 passengers
  4. Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)—Singapore (Changi Airport): 4,108,824 passengers
  5. Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport)—Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport): 3,438,628 passengers
  6. Dubai (Dubai International Airport)—London (Heathrow Airport): 3,210,121 passengers
  7. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Seol (Incheon International Airport): 3,198,132 passengers
  8. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Singapore (Changi Airport): 3,147,384 passengers
  9. New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport)—London (Heathrow Airport): 2,972,817 passengers
  10. Hong Kong (Hong Kong International Airport)—Beijing (Beijing Capital International Airport): 2,962,707 passengers

The route from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport was the priciest of the top 100 with an average base fare of $642.41, while the route from Turkey's Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport to Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen International Airport was the cheapest with an average base fare of $55.04.

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