(Detailed PDF Map)
Source: Amadeus.
The World's Busiest Air Transport Routes, 2012
Although it is commonly believed that air transportation mostly services long distance markets, the business thrives at servicing short haul markets of less than 1,000 km (less than 2 hours of flight time). The world's busiest air route is between Seoul and the resort island of Jeju, just located 450 km apart. It accounted for 10.16 million passengers in 2012. Short haul air routes take different configurations depending on the region they serve:
  • East Asia has experienced a fast growth in its air travel industry. Japan accounts for the busiest routes, even if the national urban system has extensively been linked with a high speed train system. The routes involved are beyond the 2 hours service timeframe for high speed rail, or not serviced (Okinawa). The Hong Kong - Taipei segment emerged since direct flights between Taiwan and mainland China were not permitted until 2014.
  • Europe. Although the European air transport network is extensive, it does not figure predominantly among the world's busiest air routes. One reason is that for many of the largest city pairs that used to represent important air routes, the development of high speed rail has captured a significant amount of the traffic. The large number of airports within Europe confers an extensive air transport network, but few large scale airports. The corridors that still rank among the world's busiest involve city-pairs not well serviced by train services, such as Paris - Toulouse, Paris - Nice and Madrid - Barcelona.
  • North America has the longest routes, where many of the busiest routes involving more than 2 hours flights. The most significant route, New York - Miami, jointly reflects business and touristic purposes.
  • Other routes are short distance hauls between two major cities such as between Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, between Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil.