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The World's Most Popular Air Routes Might Surprise You

Picture of Matthew Keegan
Updated: 27 September 2017
According to a survey, Hong Kong is high above the rest of the world when it comes to international air routes.

Hong Kong is well known for its bustling way of life and crowded city streets. But it’s not just crowded at ground level; Hong Kong’s airspace is also among the busiest in the world.

A recent survey by Routesonline has revealed that eight of the top 20 busiest international air routes in the world begin or end in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport | © IQRemix / Flickr

First place in the survey was the Hong Kong to Taipei route with more than 450,000 passengers in July alone. That works out to more than ten people a minute flying the 500 miles between the two cities, around the clock.

Other busy Hong Kong routes featured on the list include – Hong Kong to Shanghai Pudong (fifth place) with 225,888 passengers and Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong (seventh place) with 197,935 passengers.

Almost all of the world’s 20 busiest air routes are in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore also features prominently in the survey with five routes in the top 20, including the second and third most popular routes: to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur respectively.

Other cities that featured high in the rankings include Bangkok, Osaka and Manila.

Just two non-Asian routes made the top 20. Those were Moscow to Simferopol (12th place) linking Russia’s capital city with Crimea, while at 16th place was the leisure route of Düsseldorf to Mallorca, linking German’s seventh most populous city with the holiday island of Mallorca.

In terms of busiest airports in the world for international passengers, Dubai’s International Airport is still the busiest with 83.6 million travellers in 2016. In second place is London’s Heathrow Airport 71m (2016) and in third place is Hong Kong International Airport – 68.1m.

Other than the top 20 international routes, domestic air routes have even more passengers. Routesonline has found that the busiest flight in the world is from Jeju International to Seoul Gimpo International. This domestic flight links the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula with the capital city of South Korea. More than 1.28 million passengers travelled the 280 miles between the two airports in July this year alone.

World’s top 20 busiest international air routes (based on number of passengers carried in July 2017):

1 Hong Kong-Taipei 451,801

2 Jakarta-Singapore 322,488

3 Kuala Lumpur-Singapore 269,395

4 Seoul Incheon-Osaka Kansai 233,920

5 Hong Kong-Shanghai Pudong 225,888

6 Taipei-Osaka Kansai 200,131

7 Seoul Incheon-Hong Kong 197,935

8 Bangkok-Hong Kong 197,313

9 Taipei-Tokyo Narita 197,175

10 Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta 195,988

11 Hong Kong-Singapore 187.128

12 Moscow Domodedovo-Simferopol 186,239

13 Singapore-Bangkok 173,660

14 Hong Kong-Beijing 169,666

15 Seoul Gimpo-Tokyo Haneda 166,402

16 Palma-Dusseldorf 165,758

17 Seoul Incheon-Bangkok 163,274

18 Osaka Kansai-Hong Kong 163,154

19 Hong Kong-Manila 162,647

20 Manila-Singapore 156,522

Source: Routesonline