The World’s Busiest Air Route

The World’s Busiest Air Route.

What’s the busiest air route in the world? New York to Washington DC? London to Paris? The correct answer will surprise you. The most crowded flight path on Earth, according to a new report by aviation analyst OAG, is the 280-mile hop from Seoul Gimpo (stop sniggering) to Jeju International. There were a staggering 64,991 departures between these two airports in 2017 – that works out at around 178 a day.

Second on its list is Melbourne-Sydney, with 54,519, while third place goes to Mumbai-Delhi, with 47,462. In fact, all of the ten busiest air routes are domestic services, with Cape Town-Johannesburg (9th) the longest at 789 miles. (4th: Fukuoka-Tokyo Haneda; 5th: Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo; 6th: Sapporo-Tokyo Haneda; 7th: Los Angeles-San Francisco; 8th: Brisbane-Sydney; 10th: Beijing-Shanghai).

The busiest international route is Hong Kong-Taipei, with 29,494 departures in 2017, followed by Kuala Lumpur-Singapore, with 29,383. Europe’s busiest service, meanwhile, is Dublin-Heathrow (9th), served by BA and Aer Lingus. All of the most crowded international routes is, unsurprisingly, short, with Bangkok-Singapore the longest at 890 miles. (3rd: Jakarta-Singapore; 4th: Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur; 5th: Hong Kong-Shanghai; 6th: New York La Guardia-Toronto; 7th: Hong Kong-Seoul Incheon; 8th: Beijing-Hong Kong; 10th: Bangkok-Singapore).

Why are so many people flying to Jeju? More than 26 million passengers use Jeju International each year – that’s more than any UK airport bar Gatwick and Heathrow. So what the devil is Jeju, and why are so many rushing to see it? It’s the capital of an island, Jeju-do, which might just be the most popular holiday destination you’ve never heard of.

Unesco-listed, and billed as South Korea’s answer to Hawaii, it’s pure Instagram gold, and home to dramatic volcanic landscapes, underground caves, hiking trails and scenic beaches. Halla Mountain, at 1,940m above sea level, is South Korea’s highest peak, while the cone of Seongsan Ilchulbong, or “Sunrise Peak”, is particularly spectacular.

In 2011 Jejudo was named among the “New7Wonders of Nature,” though there were accusations that its selection was down not just to its beauty, but also the readiness of tourism and marketing organisations to stump up cash – including taxpayers’ money – to support its campaign. There are also casinos, which help lure travellers from China, and, thanks to the island’s self-governing status, anyone can visit without a visa. But Jejudo also has a dark side. In 1948 and 1949, the South Korean government brutally put down an attempted uprising on the island. Villagers, including women and children, were massacred, and as recently as 2008 mass graves were still being uncovered. Some 30,000 people died as a result of the uprising, with a further 40,000 fleeing to Japan, and the atrocities are remembered at the 4.3 Peace Park memorial.

Credit: Oliver Smith for The Telegraph, 9 January 2018.