Top 5 Routes Are in Asia, IATA Data Show

Madhu Unnikrishnan
August 9th, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT

Three of the five most traveled domestic air routes for 2020 were based in China, which became the world’s largest domestic market for the first time on record last year, IATA data show. China’s success is also reflected by the fact two of the top five airlines in terms of total scheduled passenger kilometers were Chinese — second-ranked China Southern Airlines and fifth-ranked China Eastern Airlines.

Source: IATA

But while two of the aforementioned Chinese domestic routes saw passenger traffic increase by more than 40 percent in 2020, the Asian domestic route that experienced the biggest jump was in Vietnam: Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The route between the two cities saw a roughly 54 percent rise in passengers from 2019, and the 5.9 million travelers who flew between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City last year placed the route just behind Korea’s Jeju and Seoul Gimbo Airport as Asia’s — and the world’s — most traveled domestic route of 2020.

​“(Last year) was a year that we’d all like to forget. But analyzing the performance statistics for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

Rashaad Jorden

Fleet Briefs

  • Frontier is launched 15 new leisure routes, mainly to the Caribbean and Mexico and including its first-ever flight to Aruba, from Miami. Speaking of Miami, the discounter is significantly beefing up its presence in the Florida city, with nine new flights launching in November. Including Aruba, Frontier will start Miami flights to: Portland, Maine; St. Louis; Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany, N.Y.; Memphis, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; and Turks & Caicos.
  • Also in the Caribbean, Air France is launching more flights from Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, to Montreal and New York. The carrier also is adding Tenerife and Rovaniemi, Finland, from Charles de Gaulle and Berlin and Munich from Orly.
  • Starting Nov. 4, WestJet will add four weekly flights from Calgary to Seattle, going up to six weekly flights in December, daily next March, and twice daily in May. Canada’s border restrictions are expected to end on Aug. 9.
  • It’s not quite a route, but it is a destination. Allegiant will resume work on its Florida Sunseeker resort after a pause of 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The resort will have 500 rooms, 150 extended-stay suites, 19 restaurants and bars, and 50,000 sq.-ft. of conference space when it opens in 18-24 months. The resort is near Allegiant’s base at Punta Gorda and also to Allegiant destination St. Pete-Clearwater.
  • Air Transat took another step to becoming a national carrier in Canada with the launch of direct weekly service between Vancouver and Quebec City on August 2, becoming the only airline to operate the route. Flights depart from Vancouver on Mondays and from Quebec City on Sundays until October 25.  In addition to the capital of Canada’s largest province, Air Transat will also direct flights from Vancouver to Montreal and Toronto.
  • WestJet launched its first flights from Calgary to Amsterdam on August 5, the first European route the Canadian carrier has started since the pandemic began. The twice-weekly flights will go to thrice-weekly in September. WestJet is operating the flight with Boeing 787s.
  • Cathay Pacific has resumed cargo flights to Pittsburgh International Airport. The Hong Kong-based carrier will serve Pittsburgh twice weekly through the end of the year, with Boeing 777-300ER passenger planes converted for cargo scheduled to arrive on Monday and Friday and depart the following day. Cathay Pacific had actually launched cargo service to Pennsylvania’s second largest city in September 2020 with 20 flights. 

Madhu Unnikrishnan & Rashaad Jorden

Madhu Unnikrishnan
August 9th, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT

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