Busiest International Asian-Pacific Routes in 2023

Busiest International Asian-Pacific Routes in 2023

DALLAS — Asia Pacific (APAC) region is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. The majority of carrier operates their flights through routes that include APAC cities which they consider as their first-choice international destinations.

The following is a summary of the top international routes in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region so far in 2023. We have added the top 10 routes of February 2023 to give you a brief idea about which route is expected to be the most swarming this year.

The list will not include most flown domestic routes such as Melbourne-Sydney, Delhi-Mumbai, and Shanghai-Beijing of APAC Countries.

In our last post on the Top 10 Most Popular Asian-Pacific Routes in 2022 we added a brief outlook about the APAC region, so make sure to check it out.

China Airlines B-18906 Airbus A350-900
China Airlines B-18906 Airbus A350-900 | Photo: Max Langley/Airways

Most Flown APAC Routes of 2023

Let’s take a closer look at the region and the most popular airline routes. Data for this analysis was collected from multiple sources, including the OAG database, Cirium, Flights.com, Flightaware, IATA, and ICAO datasets.

The data provided will change as airlines update their schedules after analyzing different data points for particular destinations. We’ll be bringing you up-to-date information in our upcoming articles.

9M-MXX Malaysia Airlines BOeing 737-800 WIMM KNO
9M-MXX Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 WIMM KNO | Photo: Wilbert Tana/Airways

1. Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Singapore Changi (SIN)

The KUL-SIN route is expected to be the most flown route of this month. Both cities are crucial to Southeast Asian countries as it brings lots of economic opportunities to the region.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and one of the fastest-growing urban centers in the world, both in population and economic expansion. The city has Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), which serves the city’s greater conurbation.

Similarly, Singapore is the city-state of the Republic of Singapore and it is the third most densely populated urban region in the world. It has two international airports, with Changi Airport (SIN) as the major one and highly rated in the world for its ambiance and infrastructure.

Kuala Lumpur is well connected to Singapore through its busiest airports. There are more than 800 weekly flights between the two cities. It takes around one hour and five minutes for a direct flight to cover the distance of 185 miles / 297 km between KUL-SIN.

The KUL-SIN route has around 350K+ seats available for passengers. The top operators of this route are Malaysian Airlines (MH), AirAsia (AK), and Singapore Airlines (SQ).

MH mostly deploys Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX and also operates Airbus A350-900 aircraft, AK most of the time operates the Airbus A320neo fleet on this route. Lastly, SQ has a codeshare with MH like other operators, However, it still deploys its Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A350-900 aircraft fleet on this highly competitive route.

Korean Air HL8082 787-9 ICN. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways
Korean Air HL8082 787-9 ICN. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways

2. Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Osaka Kansai (KIX)

The ICN-KIX is a route connecting Seoul, South Korea to Osaka Kansai, Japan. Both destinations are crucial technological and economic hubs of their countries.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and one of the world’s largest metropolitan economies. Incheon International Airport (ICN) is the primary airport serving the city and the largest airport in South Korea. It has been ranked highly by various rating agencies. The alternate airport is Gimpo International Airport (GMP), which helps to offload some of the traffic from ICN.

Osaka is a dedicated city in the Kansai region of Honshu, the largest and most populous island in Japan. It is the tenth-largest urban area in the world in terms of population. The region has two airports, Itami Airport (ITM) is the oldest, and Kansai International Airport (KIX) is formed later and is a floating airport in the country.

There are close to 1200 weekly flight options between ICN and KIX. The average non-stop flight takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes to cover 535 miles (861 km) between ICN and KIX.

The ICN-KIX route can carry 283K+ passengers. The top operators serving two major cities are Korean Air (KE), Asiana Airlines (OZ), and Japan Airlines (JL).

They frequently deploy heavy airliners to serve this international route. KE deploys some Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s and 737s, while OZ operates a fleet of Airbus A321s, A330s, and A350s along with Boeing 777s, and JL uses codeshare flights with KE and uses the same fleet to operate on this route.

Pre-pandemic Thai had a fleet of six A380s. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways.

3. Bangkok (BKK) – Seoul Incheon (ICN)

The BKK-ICN connects Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, with Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.

Bangkok is the most populous city and the capital of Thailand. The high population density of the country requires two major airports, Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) and Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), to accommodate international travelers.

The route is served by around 3,000 weekly flight options. The nonstop flight between the two cities takes around five hours and 25 minutes and is one of the longest on our list. The flight distance between BKK-ICN is 2314 miles / 3724 km.

The BKK-ICN has the availability of more than 274K seats to serve travelers and business commuters. The top operators of this route are KE, Thai Airways (TG), and OZ.

For the third most traveled route, KE uses its large Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s; TG operates wide-body Airbus A380s and A350s along with Boeing 787s; similarly, OZ employs its Boeing 787s, Airbus A380s, and A350s.

Japan Airlines JA8987 Boeing 767-300
Japan Airlines JA8987 Boeing 767-300 | Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

4. Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)

It’s the third time that ICN has made it into this list, this time ICN connects itself to Tokyo’s NRT airport.

Tokyo is the capital and most populous city in Japan, as well as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It has two airports serving its large population: Haneda International Airport (HND) and Narita International Airport (NRT). HND was originally the main airport serving Tokyo, but a new airport was built in Narita to accommodate the increasing passenger traffic.

The Seoul to Tokyo route is highly trafficked, with over 2000 direct and connecting flights per week. On average, it takes two hours and twenty minutes to travel the 715-mile/1150.68-kilometer distance between the two cities. The ICN-NRT has over 267K seats available from multiple airlines, with the top operators being KE, JL, and OZ.

There are dozens of airlines flying nonstop or via connecting metropolises over this route. The top operating carriers on the route are Korean Air (KE), Japan Airlines (JL), and Asiana Airlines (OZ). KE deploys Airbus A330s, and Boeing 737s, while JL operates Boeing 737 MAX, Boeing 767s, and Airbus A330s frequently, and OZ mainly deploys Airbus A320s and A330s on this route.

PK-GIJ Garuda Indonesia (Ayo Pakai Masker Livery) Boeing B777-300ER WIMM KNO
PK-GIJ Garuda Indonesia (Ayo Pakai Masker Livery) Boeing B777-300ER WIMM KNO | Photo: Wilbert Tana/Airways

5. Jakarta (CGK) – Singapore Changi (SIN)

Jakarta-Singapore has reached the fifth spot, and we can expect them to move ahead, as seen in last year’s list.

Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia, the largest city in Southeast Asia, and the diplomatic capital of ASEAN. To serve the vast population, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP) in East Jakarta is used for domestic flights, while Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) is the largest airport in the region.

Both southeastern cities are well connected, and it takes around one hour and fifty minutes to cover a distance of 546 miles (878 kilometers). The route has more than 800 weekly flights flown by several airlines.

The CGK-SIN can serve 266K+ passengers, closely competing with the ICN-NRT route.

The top operators of this route are Garuda Indonesia (GA), Batik Air (ID), AirAsia Indonesia (QZ), and Singapore Airlines (SQ). GA deploys Boeing 777s and A330s, ID operates the Boeing 737 fleet, and QZ operates A320s, while SQ deploys its Boeing 777 and A330 fleet on the route.

Singapore A350-900 9V-SMV
Singapore A350-900 9V-SMV | Photo: MichalMendyk/Airways

6. Bangkok (BKK) – Singapore Changi (SIN)

The Bangkok-Singapore route is one of the more popular routes for tourists visiting Southeast Asia.

There are various airlines that together operate close to 750 weekly flights on this route. It takes around two hours and 25 minutes for a direct flight to cover the distance of 892 miles (1436 km) between Bangkok and Singapore.

The BKK-SIN has the availability of 253K+ seats for various travelers.

Some of the top operators flying on this route are TG, Thai Smile (WE), and SQ. TG deploys its Airbus A330s, Boeing 787s, and Boeing 777s, Likewise, WE has a codeshare agreement with TG and books tickets for TG. However, SQ, along with its low-cost subsidiary Scoot (TR), operates all Airbus fleets, including A320s, A321s, and A350s.

Emirates A6-ECY Boeing 777-300(ER). Photo: Ian Marshall/Airways

7. Mumbai (BOM) – Dubai (DXB)

One of India’s busiest international routes is between Mumbai and Dubai. The BOM-DXB route is popular amongst tourists and passengers traveling to Europe and the Americas. The financial capital of India, Mumbai is the most populous city in the country and the 8th most populous city in the world. Mumbai established a second airport to meet the high air travel demand.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), commonly known as Mumbai Int’l Airport (BOM), has two terminals and has set records for handling the highest number of flights in a day with just one operating runway.

Dubai, which is considered the center of the aviation world, is also the most populous city in the UAE. Founded in the 18th century as a small fishing village, the city expanded rapidly in the early 2000s thanks to its tourism and luxury industries. The city has two international airports, Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC).

The BOM-DXB is the busiest international route in India, various carriers operate close to 1500 weekly flights. It takes around three hours and 20 minutes on a nonstop flight to cover the distance of 1203 miles / 1924 Km between BOM and DXB.

The BOM-DXB has the capacity to accommodate 222K+ passengers.

The top three operators on this route are Emirates (EK), Air India (AI), and IndiGo (6E). EK deploys its Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s, while AI operates Airbus A320s and the Boeing 787-8 fleet, as well as its subsidiary AIX, which operates Boeing 737s. India’s largest carrier, 6E, deploys Airbus A320neos.

Cathay Pacific B-LRX Airbus A350-900
Cathay Pacific B-LRX Airbus A350-900 | Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

8. Bangkok (BKK) – Hong Kong (HGK)

The BKK-HGK is another essential route for passengers traveling further to East Asian countries.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China and is one of the most densely populated places in the world. It has two airports, but Chek Lap Kok International Airport (HKG) is the only one available for commercial operations in the city.

The crucial economic cities are served by many airlines, combined they operate close to 350 weekly flights. It takes them around two hours and 45 minutes on a nonstop flight to cover a distance of 1072 miles / 1725.22 km on the BKK to HKG route.

The BKK-HGK has the capacity to accommodate 221K+ Passengers. It falls a few thousand seats short of the BOM-DXB route.

The top operator of the route is Cathay Pacific (CX), TG, and WE. All these top operators deploy their fleet of Airbus A350-900 aircraft on this competitive route.

China Airlines B-18307 Airbus A330-300
China Airlines B-18307 Airbus A330-300 | Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

9. Hong Kong (HGK) – Taipei (TPE)

The HGK-TPE route, which ranked top last year, has made an average start this year.

Taipei is the capital city and special municipality of Taiwan. Taipei is one of the most prominent hubs in the East Asian region. Similar to HKG, Taipei has two airports; however, Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is used for civilian travel.

Both Chinese cities have lots of traffic, and last year they topped the list. There are many carriers that operate close to 1,000 weekly direct and connecting flights on this route. However, with an increase in traffic later this year, we can expect more and more demand on the route. The HGK-TPE has 216K+ seats.

The top operators serving passengers on two-hour non-stop flights include China Airlines (CI), China Eastern Airlines (CX), Hong Kong Airlines (HX), and Eva Air (BR). These major carriers, along with other small regional airlines, fly various nonstop flights using heavy airliners.

China Airlines deploys its Airbus A330 fleet, CX operates its A330s and A350s, HX deploys the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and A320s, and lastly, BR deploys Boeing 787s and Airbus A320s over this route.

Asiana Airlines HL8282 Airbus A330-323. Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways

10. Fukuoka (FUK) – Seoul Incheon (ICN)

Last but not least on our list is Fukuoma, the sixth-largest city in Japan that connects to ICN.

Fukuoka is the sixth-largest and most populous city on Kyushu Island. The city has the sole Fukuoka Airport (FUK), which is the fourth largest in Japan. Also, it is the fourth busiest airport with a single operating runway after Mumbai (BOM), London (LGW), and Istanbul (SAW).

The passengers traveling on this route have close to 300 direct and connecting flight options per week. The passenger traveling on a nonstop flight has to fly for one hour and 30 minutes and cover a distance of 349 miles (563 km) between FUK and ICN

The FUK-ICN route has a capacity of 215K+ seats.

The top operators on this route are KE, OZ, and Jeju Air (7C). KE deploys a fleet of Airbus A330s, Boeing 737-900s, and 787 Dreamliners. While OZ operates its heavy airliners, Boeing 777s, and Airbus A330s, 7C deploys a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 | Photo: Noah Pitkin/Airways

Bottom Line

Some of the lower-traffic routes on our list are competing marginally, and we may see changes in traffic levels on certain routes over the next few months, with an increase expected following the summer holidays.

You might have noticed that Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN) is one of the four busiest APAC routes. Bangkok (BKK) and Singapore (SIN) are also two of the three most-fleeted APAC routes at the beginning of 2023.

The KUL-SIN route is not only the busiest in APAC but also among global international airline routes. Likewise, ICN-KIX is the fourth busiest route, and BKK-ICN is the fifth busiest route in the global list. Similarly, APAC cities are represented on nine of the ten busiest global international routes.

As mentioned above, Most routes in the international top 10 are in APAC and the Middle East regions with a little number in Africa, Europe, and North America. 6 out of the top 10 routes are within the APAC territory. 

Stay tuned to Airways to see more high-traffic routes from other parts of the world, such as Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.

Which APAC route would you like to fly, and which APAC airline is your choice? Be sure to tell us in the comments on our social media channels.

Feature Image: Singapore A350-900 9V-SMY | Photo: MichalMendyk/Airways

Aircraft maintenance engineering graduate and Aviation enthusiast with more than four years of experience in running a successful aviation startup.

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