The world’s single most lucrative airline route is British Airways’ New York JFK to London Heathrow, which generates $1.04 billion in revenues annually for the airline, Forbes reports.

This one route — flown about 15 times daily — accounts for 6 per cent of British Airways’ total revenues.

Interestingly, New York-London did not figure into the rankings otherwise, despite the fact that many other airlines fly the same route. London Heathrow, however, figures prominently on the list.

Data from the Official Airline Guide (OAG) placed British Airways’ flagship service atop its list of richest routes, followed by:

  • Qantas, Melbourne to Sydney: $855 million
  • Emirates, London Heathrow to Dubai: $819 million
  • Singapore Airlines, London Heathrow to Singapore: $710 million
  • American Airlines, Los Angeles LAX to New York JFK: $698 million
  • United Airlines, San Francisco to Newark: $688 million
  • Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong to London Heathrow: $632 million
  • Qatar Airways, London Heathrow to Doha: $553 million
  • Air Canada, Vancouver to Toronto Pearson: $552 million
  • Singapore Airlines, Sydney to Singapore: $544 million

Notably, Qantas’ Melbourne-Sydney service is the only short-haul route that made the list.

“All these findings signal that, despite the incursion of low-cost carriers into the airline marketplace on every continent, long-haul business travel remains the primary generator of revenue around the world,” Forbes noted.


It must be noted that OAG’s report concerns itself only with airport to airport services. Many people (and indeed do governments when negotiating for traffic rights) consider a route to be classified as air service(s) between the airports in any two cities.

This is important to note as many cities around the world boast more than one airport.

London Heathrow to New York JFK is undoubtedly a lucrative route for British Airways because the bulk, but not all, of BA’s operations are centred on JFK.

But what I do find misleading is Emirates’ revenue performance for London Heathrow to Dubai.

Emirates also operates three daily A380 flights from Gatwick plus one daily B777-300ER service from Stansted.

So if the London-Dubai *route* were considered that’s another 1,500 to 2,000 passengers daily. Including Gatwick/Stansted figures would place that route and Emirates higher in the rankings.

My final concern is with sixth-freedom traffic. Has OAG taken sixth-freedom traffic into consideration? Many of the routes carry substantial sixth-freedom traffic. Is the sixth-freedom revenue included? Surely that’s an impossible task.

Alex McWhirter