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The World’s Busiest Country Pairs By Seats This Month

by Staff

Summary

  • The busiest markets in terms of seats are between the UAE and India, Japan and South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, and Mexico and the United States in ascending order.
  • Japan to South Korea has experienced the most significant boom in air travel, with a 45.2% increase in seats offered compared to December 2019.
  • The Mexico to the United States route remains the busiest, with a 35.5% increase in seats offered compared to December 2019.


December is one of the busiest months for air travel of the year. Christmas tends to mark the end-of-year holidays with people traveling for various reasons.

As such, looking at the number of passengers traveling between country pairs is interesting. OAG has analyzed this data in its Airline Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics Report with the top 5 results for the busiest country pairs for December 2023.


5 United Arab Emirates to India

2,077,763 seats

Seat increase versus December 2019

Seat increase versus November 2023

+6.8%

+4.6%

Operations between India and the United Arab Emirates have multiplied. This is unsurprising given the significant number of Indians in the United Arab Emirates, standing at about 3.3 million, representing roughly 40% of the population. Since diplomatic relations were established in 1972, India has become a vital economic partner for the United Arab Emirates and vice versa.

Photo: BoeingMan777 | Shutterstock

The route connecting Dubai to Mumbai is the fourth-busiest international air connection for the Middle East, with 241,122 seats on offer for December 2023. Low-cost airlines that offer this flight include SpiceJet, flydubai, and IndiGo, while the full-service carriers that operate the service are Air India, Emirates, and Vistara. Dubai to Delhi is equally a bustling route, coming in as the 7th busiest international air route from the Middle East with 207,884 seats.

High demand on the India-UAE sector is nothing new. Earlier this year, Simple Flying reported that summer seats from Abu Dhabi to the country were up by more than 20% in comparison to 2019 across six different airlines and 15 cities in India.

4 Japan to South Korea

2,247,914 seats

Seat increase versus December 2019

Seat increase versus November 2023

+45.2%

+8.1%

Since Japan eased its travel restrictions by the end of 2022, services between Japan and South Korea have skyrocketed. The route has even surpassed the seats on offer on the busy Jeju to Seoul route that regularly tops the leaderboard for being one of the busiest air routes in the world – even as a domestic flight.

The significant difference between 2019 and 2023 numbers is worth noting, representing a 45.2% increase. This is due to political tensions between the two countries in the last few years that have since died down. Japan has become a “boycott target among South Koreans unhappy with Tokyo’s actions on semiconductor materials exports,” as per Nikkei Asia.

Seoul Incheon to Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai, and Fukuoka are all featured in the Asia-Pacific region’s top 10 busiest international connections. The route to Tokyo comes in second place with 433,406 seats, Osaka in fourth place with 415,396 seats, and Fukuoka in 9th place with 295,972 seats on offer.

Korean Air Boeing 737-800 airplane at Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) in South Korea

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Overall, the Japan-to-South Korea market has boomed in recent months, with an 8.1% increase in seats offered compared to November 2023. Key airlines in the market include Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways among many others.

3 Spain to the United Kingdom

3,071,019 seats

Seat increase versus December 2019

Seat increase versus November 2023

+10.5%

+2.1%

Britons rank Spain as their favorite holiday destination, with 15.6 million visits in 2022 alone, according to Statista. Mallorca, the Canary Islands, and Ibiza are some of the more popular destinations for British travelers.

Iberia Airbus A350-900 on the tarmac after being sprayed with water.

Photo: Iberia

London Heathrow to Madrid takes the 10th spot in busiest city pairs in Europe in December 2023 with 164,282 seats on offer. Iberia and British Airways operate the route. A plethora of airlines also offer connections between Madrid and other London airports.

2 Canada to the United States

3,181,902 seats

Seat increase versus December 2019

Seat increase versus November 2023

-2.0%

+7.7%

Approximately 3.1 million Canadians reside in the United States, reflected in the number of available seats. Besides the diaspora, Canada borders the United States, thus making it a convenient travel destination for Canadian travelers. The United States is one of the top tourist destinations for Canadians.

Air Canada Airbus A321 (Star Alliance) taking off.

Photo: Angel DiBlilo | Shutterstock

The busiest routes for December 2023 include New York La Guardia (LGA) to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), with 161 weekly flights, according to Cirium data. Other important routes include Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ) with 102 weekly flights and Newark (EWR) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ) with 96 weekly operations. Finally, capacity to Florida is up by 16% compared with last year, particularly given the inauguration of new routes on the sector by Porter Airlines, Lynx Air and Flair Airlines.

Air Canada dominates the US-Canada market, offering nearly three times the number of weekly operations at 2,543. United Airlines has the second-highest number of weekly operations, totaling 744. Westjet follows swiftly afterward, with Delta Air Lines flying in fourth place.

1 Mexico to the United States

4,714,162 seats

Seat increase versus December 2019

Seat increase versus November 2023

+35.5%

+25.1%

Mexico and the United States represent the pair with the highest seats for December 2023. It was equally the winning country pair on the leaderboard in December 2022.

Volaris airline (on Land) and Aeromexico Airlines depart; both mexicans aircrafts in the Tijuana international airport.

Photo: VG Foto | Shutterstock

Simple Flying reported last December that the Mexico-US market achieved the top spot for several reasons, not least tourism, which remains a key factor. Other reasons included the migration of US workers who have made a life for themselves in cities in Mexico.

The busiest routes between the US and Mexico by number of operations per week this month include Guadalajara (GDL) to Los Angeles (LAX), Houston (IAH) to Mexico City (MEX), and Cancun (CUN) to Dallas (DFW) according to Cirium data. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Volaris are the biggest airlines in this market based on the same metric.

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