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The world’s busiest flight routes for 2023

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — Singapore’s Changi is often lauded as the world’s best airport – and it’s also one of the busiest.

Travel intelligence company OAG has released its annual listing of the world’s busiest international flight routes, and three of the top 10 involve going to Singapore: connecting with Bangkok (in eighth place), Jakarta (landing in seventh) and Kuala Lumpur (the very top of the list).

This data is based purely on the number of seats sold on flights throughout 2023. The busiest route, from Malaysia’s capital to Singapore, had 4.9 million total seats purchased. The flight, which lasts just over one hour, is popular with commuters who prefer to travel between the two neighboring countries by air, rather than by car.

All but one of the top 10 busiest routes are in Asia and the Middle East, with the lone exception being the New York-London hop across the pond. OAG notes that the JFK to Heathrow trip was the only flight route in the top 10 whose total capacity went up from 2019.

Asia also dominates the ranking of busiest domestic air routes, with Japan taking the lead. Flights connecting the hub of Tokyo with popular vacation getaways Fukuoka (a major foodie hub and gateway to South Korea), Sapporo (beloved for winter sports), and Okinawa (known as “the Hawaii of Japan”) were in second, third and seventh places respectively.

Meanwhile, a few of the busiest routes linked major cities in larger countries, such as China (Beijing and Shanghai) and Australia (Melbourne and Sydney).

There were also a few routes outside of the top 10 that OAG called out. The busiest domestic air route in the United States wasn’t New York to Los Angeles – it was Honolulu to Kahului in Hawaii, connecting the islands of Oahu and Maui. In all, 3.6 million seats were sold along that route, although it’s unclear if the devastating fires in Maui contributed to a decrease in tickets sold at the end of 2023.

The intra-California jaunt from San Francisco to Los Angeles ranked number one in the US in 2019 but fell to sixth place in 2023.

The 10 busiest international flight routes of 2023

1. Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Singapore (SIN)
2. Cairo (CAI) to Jeddah (JED)
3. Hong Kong (HKG) to Taipei (TPE)
4. Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Osaka Kansai (KIX)
5. Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
6. Dubai (DXB) – Riyadh (RUH)
7. Jakarta (CGK) – Singapore (SIN)
8. New York Kennedy (JFK) – London Heathrow (LHR)
9. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) – Singapore (SIN)
10. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) – Seoul Incheon (ICN)

The 10 busiest domestic flight routes of 2023

1. Jeju (CJU) to Seoul Gimpo (GMP)
2. Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) – Tokyo Haneda (HND)
3. Fukuoka (FUK) – Tokyo Haneda (HND)
4. Hanoi (HAN) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)
5. Melbourne (MEL) – Sydney (SYD)
6. Beijing (PEK) – Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA)
7. Tokyo Haneda (HND) – Okinawa Naha (OKA)
8. Jeddah (JED) – Riyadh (RUH)
9. Mumbai (BOM) – Delhi (DEL)
10. Jakarta (CGK) – Bali Denpasar (DPS)

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