Roundup: The busiest routes for Asia's airlines

19 Oct 2016 by Craig Bright
LV Incheon Air port

A few weeks ago, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific published the article Singapore Airlines expands Sydney and Jakarta services, in which we mention that the airline’s busiest route is between Jakarta and Singapore, which will reach a total of 74 weekly flights when its new services come online later this year.

Following this article, forum user icenspice posed a question in our forum asking what other airlines’ busiest routes were.

We decided to investigate. Here are the busiest routes for some of Asia’s major carriers (all routes are one-way unless otherwise specified):

SIngapore Airlines A380 at Heathrow

Singapore Airlines

As mentioned, Singapore Airlines’ major route is from Jakarta to Singapore, with a total of 74 weekly flights following the expansion of the service as part of the airline’s effort to increase capacity between Singapore and Sydney.

According to the airline, as of October 1, 2016 the route has a weekly capacity of 17,339 and a daily capacity of 2,477. When the new services come online, however, this will increase to between approximately 20,177 to 21,488, owing to variable configurations in the B777-200 aircraft on the route.

Close behind are the airline’s routes to Singapore from Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai, with a daily capacity of 2,063, 1,552 and 1,547 respectively.

Cathay Pacific A330-300

Cathay Pacific

Taipei to Hong Kong is the world’s busiest international route, and fifth-busiest route overall, according to 2016 data from air travel intelligence company, OAG.

As such, it is little surprise that the route is one of Cathay Pacific’s (CX) busiest also, with about 105 flights per week (at the time of writing), discounting those operated by its sister airline Dragonair.

The Hong Kong-based carrier operates a number of aircraft on the route, including the A350-900, A330-300, B777-300ER, B777-300, B777-200 and A340-300. Taking the capacities of these aircraft in the CX fleet into account, the airline has between 32,372 and 34,872 seats per week on the route (factoring in the minimum and maximum number of seats in the various class configurations for the A330-300s and B777-300ERs in the airline’s fleet).

Qantas Aircraft


Melbourne to Sydney is the fourth-busiest airline route in the world, according to OAG, and it would make sense that the service would be one of the Australian national carrier’s highest-capacity and frequency routes.

Qantas operates 239 flights from Melbourne to Sydney per week, according to its online timetable, not including those operated by Jetstar, and uses primarily B737-800s and A330-200s, along with an A330-300 between the cities.

According to the airline’s online seat maps, Qantas offers 271 seats on its A330-200s, 168 to 174 on its B737-800s depending on their configuration, and 297 on its A330-300s. This gives the carrier a weekly capacity of between approximately 46,461 to 47,529 on the Melbourne to Sydney route.

Malaysia Airlines_A330_A2A

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia’s national carrier operates a total of 71 flights per week from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur – its highest frequency and capacity route overall, closely followed by the return journey with 69 flights per week. The Kota Kinabalu-Kuala Lumpur service provides a total weekly seating capacity of 11,360.

For international flights, Malaysia Airlines operates 68 flights from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, with 10,880 seats available.

Thai Airways A350

Thai Airways

Thai Airways currently operates a total of 35 flights per week to Hong Kong from Bangkok. Going by the airline’s winter 2016 schedule, the route includes one A380 flight, one B747 flight and three A330 flights.

According to Thai Airways, the Hong Kong to Bangkok route – its busiest – has a total of 24,906 seats available per week across the 35 flights when including the return journey, and can be estimated as having 12,453 seats available for the Bangkok-Hong Kong leg.

Korean Air Boeing 737-800

Korean Air

Korean Air operates 134 flights from Jeju to Seoul Gimpo weekly, according to the airline’s timetable, a route which OAG indicates is not only the highest-capacity domestic route in the world, but the highest-capacity route period. The majority of these flights are serviced by B737-900s, however a number are also serviced by B737-800s, B747-400s and B777-200ERs.

According to, the carrier has multiple configurations for each of these aircraft, offering variable total capacities. Based on the minimum and maximum of each aircraft used on the Jeju-Gimpo route, the carrier can be estimated as having a total weekly capacity on the route of between 27,163 and 30,591.

Which airlines and routes are you interested to learn more about? Let us know at [email protected]

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