Airline Travel

Asia Dominates Top 10 Busiest International Flight Routes in 2023

Changi Airport Singapore | Image Credit: Changi Airport Group
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Singapore and Seoul collectively figured in 60% of the world’s 10 busiest international routes – though not the route shared between them – with the top spot for 2023 originating right here in Malaysia.

As the year draws to a close, Singapore’s Changi Airport retains its reputation not only as the world’s best airport but also as one of the busiest.

But it’s the flight to Changi from Kuala Lumpur that sealed the deal as the world’s busiest international flight route in 2023.


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).

Seoul also landed on three of the top 10 spots, connecting to nearby Japanese cities Osaka and Tokyo Narita, as well as to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International.

Image Credit: OAG

This data is based purely on the total 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 or bus. The route is served by multiple airlines, typically with dozens of weekly flights offered by each.

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.

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) to Osaka Kansai (KIX)
5. Seoul Incheon (ICN) to Tokyo Narita (NRT)
6. Dubai (DXB) to Riyadh (RUH)
7. Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN)
8. New York Kennedy (JFK) to London Heathrow (LHR)
9. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) to Singapore (SIN)
10. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) to Seoul Incheon (ICN)


Asia also dominates the ranking of busiest domestic air routes, with Japan taking the lead, but not the top spot, which went to Korea, the route from Jeju Island to Seoul’s Gimpo airport selling a staggering 13.7 million seats in 2023.

In Japan, 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.

The Indonesian holiday island of Bali was also a top 10 domestic route, paired with Jakarta.

Image Credit: OAG

Meanwhile, a few of the busiest domestic routes linked notable cities in larger countries, such as China (Beijing and Shanghai), Australia (Melbourne and Sydney), India (Mumbai and Delhi), and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City).

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)

There were also a few routes outside of the top 10 that OAG called out. China’s top three busiest domestic routes all involve Shanghai, with connections to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen taking first, second, and third places, respectively,

The busiest domestic air route in the United States wasn’t New York to Los Angeles, as observers might expect (that route came in fourth-busiest) – 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, and could have possibly been higher. Though it’s not a certainty, it seems logical that the devastating fires in Maui would have led to a decrease in tickets sold at the end of 2023. Meanwhile, the short intra-California flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the route ranked number one in the US in 2019, fell to sixth place in 2023, edged out by the popular Denver to Las Vegas route.

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