Middle East airports dominate global airports in Oct 2021-Sep 2022

OAG report on busiest, high density, longest & most competitive routes
/ New Delhi
Middle East airports dominate global airports in Oct 2021-Sep 2022

OAG report says that the shift in focus to the Middle East partly reflects the slower pace of a travel recovery across Asia

A report by OAG about the air traffic in the year ending September 30, 2022 says that Middle East played a crucial part in the revival of global aviation, dominating several categories measuring air travel in the period.
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That the Middle East has been one of the leaders in global tourism revival in the current year has been evident from many reports released during the course of 2022. A report, by aviation and travel data aggregator and consultancy firm OAG, on the global air travel over the past year goes on to show exactly how dominating the role of the region has been in the revival of air traffic.

The report, covering the period from October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022 says that four of the Top 10 busiest airports operate on high density routes within the Middle East, and a further three start or end in the Middle East.

‘‘The busiest international route is between Cairo and Jeddah (CAI-JED) which has 35 daily flights, this route has the largest volume of scheduled seats at 3.2 million in the last 12 months. Next is Dubai and Riyadh (DXB-RUH) which has a higher daily frequency with 40 flights per day but is just slightly behind in seat volume at 3.19 million,’’ says the report by OAG.

OAG adds that this shift in focus to the Middle East partly reflects the slower pace of a travel recovery across Asia, where previously many of the key Asian trunk routes dominated the busiest international routes, and the ambitions of Saudia Arabia towards their Vision 2030 goal which will see air traffic grow substantially in the next decade. It adds that India is also seeing an increase in route capacity with two routes in the Top 10, operating from Mumbai to Dubai (BOM-DXB) and Delhi to Dubai (DEL-DXB).

By contrast, the busiest international route in 2019, pre-Covid, was between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Changi (KUL-SIN) and this is the only intra-Asian route to appear in the 2022 Top 10 at position five, says OAG. In 2019, carriers operated 82 daily flights between the two cities, however in the last 12 months this has averaged just 33 flights per day.

Top 10 Busiest Domestic Routes

The report says that 9 of the Top 10 busiest domestic routes operate within the Asia Pacific region. The busiest domestic airline route is between Jeju International and Seoul Gimpo International Airport (CJU-GMP) in South Korea, which has remained in first position throughout the pandemic, with carriers operating an average of 224 flights per day on this short flight between South Korea’s capital and the country’s popular leisure destination.

Three of the Top 10 busiest airline routes are in Japan, which has one of the busiest domestic markets. The other airline routes are spread across South Korea, Vietnam, Australia, India, China and Indonesia. – Some of the largest Chinese domestic airline routes would have made it into the Top 10 pre-pandemic, however ongoing reductions in airline capacity associated with China’s zero-Covid strategy have meant they fall outside of the Top 10. The exception is the largest of Chinese domestic routes, Beijing Capital International – Shanghai Hongqiao International (PEK-SHA), which is in position 10. The one route operating outside Asia Pacific is Jeddah – Riyadh (JED-RUH) in Saudi Arabia, where carriers operate nearly 100 flights per day between the two cities.

Longest Airline Routes: US & Singapore

In terms of longest airline routes, the United States dominates the segment, with many flights originating in the country. The longest airline route in September 2022, currently in operation, is between New York and Singapore (JFK-SIN) at 9,527 miles (15,500 km). This route is operated by Singapore Airlines on an A350-900 and the average flight duration of this sector is 18 hours and 40 minutes. A very close second is another Singapore route, operating to Newark (EWR-SIN) which is almost same at 9,525 miles. Singapore also features in another two of the Top 10 longest routes, to Los Angeles (LAX-SIN) and San Francisco (SFO-SIN). The third longest route in the Top 10 is London to Perth (LHR-PER), operated by Qantas, at 9,009 miles with a flight duration of 16 hours and 45 minutes. – Another Antipodean originating route, Auckland to New York (AKL-JFK), is fourth longest, covering 8,829 miles and taking 16 hours and 15 minutes.

South Korea has most competitive airline routes

The Middle East again comes into the play with the most competitive airline roiutes. OAG says that out of the Top 10 most competitive airline routes, Cairo International – Jeddah (CAI-JED) has the largest share operated by one carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines, which operated 53.8 pc of capacity in the last 12 months. By comparison, airline capacity is more evenly distributed on the Da Nang – Seoul Incheon (DAD-ICN) route, where Vietjet is the largest carrier operating 28 pc of capacity. Five of the Top 10 most competitive routes operate with eight carriers and two of these routes starts or ends at Seoul Incheon airport, BKK-ICN and ICN-NRT. The highest daily frequency is on Cairo-Jeddah (CAI-JED) where the nine carriers operate 36 daily services, with Cairo – Riyadh (CAI-RUH) a little further behind with 23 daily flights. On the other routes the daily frequency averages 8 flights.

Largest unserved routes

Based on passenger booking data for the period August 2021 – July 2022, eight of the Top 10 largest unserved routes start or end in North America. New York features in three of the routes with Quito – New York (UIO-JFK) the largest market, with more than enough passengers to potentially sustain a direct service. The other New York routes include India’s largest city, Mumbai (BOM-JFK) with nearly 82,000 passengers in a 12-month period currently travelling indirectly between these two cities, and the other is a routing between Ecuador’s second biggest city, Guayaquil and Newark (EWR-GYE), with nearly 74,000 passengers travelling indirectly in a 12-month period.

Other US destinations feature too in this list – Los Angeles – Yerevan (LAX-EVN) is the 4th largest unserved route, undoubtedly serving the significant expatriate Armenian community in Los Angeles. Athens is another key unserved market for the US, where in a 12-month period over 80,000 passengers travelled between the Greek capital and Los Angeles, while there are another 75,000 passengers travel indirectly between Rome and San Francisco (FCO-SFO). OAG adds that other routes of interest include London – Kathmandu (LHR-KTM), with nearly 90,000 people currently travelling between the UK and Nepal capital cities, Toronto – Tehran (YYZ-IKA) with 82,000 passengers,  Taipei – Jeju (TPE-CJU), the shortest route, where 83,000 people travelled indirectly in the last 12-months.

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