The airline industry is a tough business. Profit margins are narrow, airplanes are expensive to run and maintain, and government regulation and taxation can be onerous and unpredictable.

In addition, demand can stall by the outbreak of disease, recession, war, or terrorism. So when a company has a winning airline route, it makes all the difference to a company’s bottom line.

Today’s visualization uses data from OAG Aviation Worldwide, which tracked the airline routes that generated the most revenue from April 2018 to March 2019.

Top 10 Highest Revenue Routes by Airline

North American routes dominate the global rankings. However, it is the connections from the U.S Northeast and Europe that generate the most revenue and often the most delays.

Only one route breaks the billion dollar barrier: British Airways’ service between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK).

Airline Airport Pair Countries Total Revenue US$ 2018/19
British Airways JFK-LHR ???? $1,159,126,794
Qantas Airlines MEL-SYD ?? $849,260,322
Emirates LHR-DXB ???? $796,201,645
Singapore Airlines LHR-SIN ???? $735,597,614
United Airlines SFO-EWR ?? $689,371,368
American Airlines LAX-JFK ?? $661,739,368
Qatar Airways LHR-DOH ???? $639,122,609
Cathay Pacific Airways HKG-LHR ???? $604,595,063
Singapore Airlines SYD-SIN ???? $549,711,946
Air Canada YVR-YYZ ?? $541,122,509

Air Canada’s route between Vancouver and Toronto bottoms out the list with $541 million of revenue in 2019. Low population density, high infrastructure costs, and an aviation industry that is essentially an oligopoly, are all factors driving up ticket costs in Canada.

North America, Top 10 Highest Revenue Routes by Airline

Here’s a look at only the top-grossing routes connected to North America, including the prior ones that made the global list.

Airline Airport Pair Countries Total Revenue US$ 2018/19
British Airways JFK-LHR ???? $1,159,126,794
United Airlines SFO-EWR ?? $689,371,368
American Airlines LAX-JFK ?? $661,739,788
Air Canada YVR-YYZ ?? $541,122,509
British Airways BOS-LHR ???? $523,527,241
Air France JFK-CDG ???? $486,378,698
United Airlines LAX-EWR ?? $479,908,312
Cathay Pacific Airways JFK-HKG ???? $475,514,451
Delta Air Lines LAX-JFK ?? $465,130,366
British Airways LAX-LHR ???? $452,136,502

Transcontinental routes dominate the domestic market with LAX–JFK appearing twice in the ranking for both American and Delta Air Lines.

Asia, Top 10 Highest Revenue Routes by Airline

Despite Asia’s rise as an economic superpower, there are no routes that break the billion dollar barrier. Singapore Airlines’ Singapore (SIN) to London’s Heathrow (LHR) tops the list, generating $736 million in 2019.

Airline Airport Pair Countries Total Revenue US$ 2018/19
Singapore Airlines SIN-LHR ???? $735,597,614
Cathay Pacific Airlines HKG-LHR ???? $604,595,063
Singapore Airlines SIN-SYD ???? $549,711,946
Vietnam Airlines SGN-HAN ?? $488,487,259
Cathay Pacific Airlines HKG-JFK ???? $475,514,451
Japan Airlines OKA-HND ?? $447,224,346
Singapore Airlines CGK-SIN ???? $436,905,694
Japan Airlines FUK-HND ?? $431,457,469
Singapore Airlines SIN-MEL ???? $414,276,407
Cathay Pacific Airlines HKG-SIN ???? $389,910,239

The routes that dominate Asia connect the financial hubs of London, New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong. There are also two domestic routes in Japan, connecting both Fukuoka (FUK) and Okinawa (OKA) to Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) airport.

Africa, Top 10 Highest Revenue Routes by Airline

At the top of the ranking in Africa is Johannesburg (JNB) to Dubai International Airport (DXB) with revenues of $315 million. Dubai has become an important hub for high value flights arriving and departing Africa, a position that may prove profitable as air traffic on the continent increases in coming years.

Airline Airport Pair Countries Total Revenue US$ 2018/19
Emirates JNB-DXB ???? $315,678,326
British Airways JNB-LHR ???? $295,167,492
Saudi Arabian Airlines CAI-JED ???? $242,155,949
TAAG Angola Airlines LAD-LIS ???? $231,155,949
South African Airlines JNB-CPT ?? $184,944,128
Emirates CAI-DXB ???? $181,392,011
Emirates CPT-DXB ???? $176,743,498
Air France ABJ-CDG ???? $174,986,272
British Airways CPT-LHR ???? $174,605,201
Emirates MRU-DXB ???? $163,952,609

Despite the smaller earnings compared to larger markets, some airline companies see the potential for growth in Africa. Virgin Atlantic will fly a route between London’s Heathrow and Cape Town in South Africa, while Qatar Airlines acquired a stake in RwandAir.

Financial Hubs

The cities that appear in the top revenue ranking are revealing. Since business and first class travelers are such an important revenue driver, it makes sense that connections between the world’s financial hubs are delivering big value to airlines.

As Asian and African economies continue to evolve, what route could be the next billion dollar route for airlines?

Republished by permission of Visual Capitalist

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