Dubai – Heathrow now WORLD’s #1 international route by ASKs

Dubai - Heathrow now WORLD’s #1 international route by ASKs

Dubai – Heathrow is now the world’s top international route, with both Emirates and BA serving it after Virgin Atlantic ended it in 2019. Last year, Emirates began a twice-daily A380 service to Muscat, a distance of just 349 kilometres.

DubaiHeathrow is now the world’s top international route by ASKs.  This is based on the week beginning 30 September 2020 using OAG schedules data.

It rose from fifth place in the same week in 2019, despite ASKs being down by nearly half.

This pushed Heathrow – New York JFK off the top spot to fifth. This follows most Europeans being banned from the US because of coronavirus, and Americans needing to quarantine in the UK for 14 days.

The world’s top-20 international routes now have almost 1.91 billion ASKs.  This is down by 64% from 5.25 billion in the same week last year.

What is much more interesting – but perhaps not particularly surprising – is how the composition of the top-20 has temporarily changed significantly because of coronavirus.

14 new routes make it this year, led by Antalya – Moscow Sheremetyevo, Los AngelesTaipei, Doha – Heathrow, Amsterdam – Bangkok, and Doha – Manila.

If Reunion, Martinique, and Guadeloupe were sovereign countries, rather than parts of France, 15 new routes would have featured this year.  Paris OrlyReunion would have been first by ASKs, Orly – Pointe-à-Pitre fifth, and Orly – Fort-de-France ninth.

This year, Amsterdam – Singapore crept in at 20th, but with 135 million fewer Asks than #20 last year.

World’s top-20 international routes by ASKs: then and now

Airport-pair Two-way ASKs in the week of 30 Sep. 2019 Airport-pair Two-way ASKs in the week of 30 Sep. 2020
Heathrow – New York JFK 405,296,096 Dubai – Heathrow 155,528,802
Heathrow – Singapore 400,204,172 Antalya – Moscow Sheremetyevo 128,334,150
Heathrow – Hong Kong 355,278,000 Los Angeles – Taipei 122,533,018
Heathrow – Los Angeles 335,074,608 Los Angeles – Seoul Incheon 107,169,836
Dubai – Heathrow 286,652,205 Heathrow – New York JFK 103,434,624
Singapore – Sydney 251,937,340 Heathrow – Hong Kong 102,458,125
Los Angeles – Sydney 253,851,136 Doha – Heathrow 98,047,117
Hong Kong – San Francisco 248,510,160 Amsterdam – Bangkok 97,708,836
Melbourne – Singapore 247,038,275 Doha – Manila 93,025,620
Honolulu – Tokyo Narita 238,487,838 New York JFK – Seoul Incheon 91,243,488
San Francisco – Taipei 238,859,452 Heathrow – Singapore 86,377,192
Dubai – Sydney 233,883,552 San Francisco – Seoul Incheon 86,169,200
New York JFK – Paris CDG 227,878,926 Atlanta – Amsterdam 84,126,960
Buenos Aires – Madrid 225,618,415 Amsterdam – New York JFK 81,955,375
Heathrow – San Francisco 222,129,270 Doha – New York JFK 80,074,488
Hong Kong – Los Angeles 219,646,596 Dubai – Paris CDG 78,027,279
Paris CDG – Shanghai Pudong 219,032,898 Mumbai – Newark 79,166,512
Los Angeles – Seoul Incheon 218,226,960 Chicago O’Hare – Heathrow 78,305,009
Los Angeles – Paris CDG 215,185,896 Dubai – Paris CDG 78,027,279
Chicago O’Hare – Heathrow 211,015,798 Amsterdam – Singapore 75,980,070
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Dubai to Heathrow top; one of just three to rise YOY

The new leading route globally, Dubai – Heathrow, had almost 55 million fewer ASKs in this one week than number-20 did last year. 

Dubai – Heathrow is one of just six routes that were on both lists. 

And along with Chicago – Heathrow and Los Angeles – Seoul, it is one of only three to rise YOY, although obviously with far lower output.

Heathrow – Dubai currently has 38 weekly departures, down from 61 in the same week last year. 

Emirates has a 28-weekly offering – 14 by A380s – and BA seven.  BA uses 331-seat A350-1000s, with 34% of seats Club World and World Traveller Plus. 

This compares with Emirates’ 42 departures last year and BA’s 19.  Emirates used all A380s, making Heathrow – Dubai by far the world’s top A380 route.

Last year, an estimated 56% of Emirates’ Heathrow passengers connected over Dubai (from Heathrow and bridging both airports). MIDT booking data shows that Heathrow – Male was the top O&D, led by Sydney, Karachi, Mumbai, Delhi, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Colombo, and Bangkok.

We recently found that Heathrow was Emirates’ second-largest O&D from Lusaka, which resumed service on 4 September.

With Pakistan the third-largest country for Emirates from Heathrow, it’ll be interesting to see what impact BA’s coming Lahore service will have on the MEB3. Likewise Virgin Atlantic’s new Islamabad and Lahore routes.

Dubai - Heathrow now WORLD’s #1 international route by ASKs

Dubai – Heathrow is in normal times by far the world’s top A380 route. An estimated 56% of Emirates’ Heathrow passengers connected over Dubai in 2019, with these the carrier’s top O&Ds. Source: OAG Mapper.

Moscow’s fun in the sun

In second place in the week starting 30 September 2020 is Antalya to Moscow Sheremetyevo, with its ASKs up by 17% YOY. 

Given coronavirus, this growth is because Russians – like other nationalities – have shifted to countries that enable easier summer sun.

That said, Russians have been fundamental to Antalya for years.  The Turkish resort revolves around German and Russian tourists, with those from Russia overtaking last year.

In this week, Antalya to Sheremetyevo has 84 departures across seven airlines.  This is up from 70 and three carriers last year, OAG data shows.

Multiple widebodies are used, including B747-400s, B777-300ERs, and B767-300ERs.

At city-pair level, Moscow has Antalya service from Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo, and Zhukovsky (the latter is not a Moscow airport for bilateral purposes). There are 174 departures in all, around 25 daily.

Dubai - Heathrow now WORLD’s #1 international route by ASKs

Antalya was the location for CONNECT 2021. covered the event with two Show Dailies, available here.

Amsterdam, Doha, Atlanta new to list – with 9 of the 20 routes

Amsterdam, Doha, and Atlanta made the list this year, with four, three, and two routes respectively.

In early October, Delta will have 8,359 flights and 151 routes at Atlanta.

Seoul Incheon, meanwhile, features four times – up from one last year.

The loss of the 14 routes from last year includes the only one involving South America: Buenos Aires to Madrid. 

This 10,062-kilometre route had 35 departures a week last year across Aerolíneas Argentinas (14), Iberia (14), and Air Europa (7).  Now there are only six weekly departures.

Due to Australia’s quarantine and strict rules about entry, four routes involving the country fell out of the list: Singapore – Sydney, Los Angeles – Sydney, Melbourne – Singapore, and Dubai – Sydney.

This week we interviewed Brisbane’s Executive GM about the airport’s future.  Singapore is a key route that they can’t wait to restart.

Singapore Airlines and SilkAir collectively had 151 one-way flights to Australia in the 2019 week.  They involved eight airports: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. 

Now there are almost none.


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