The Top 10 Airline Routes by Revenue, According to OAG
Thousands of flights grace the skies around the world on a daily basis, taking off from every airport under the sun and carrying passengers on every type of plane imaginable. But at the end of the day, when all of the tourists and business travelers have disembarked, which routes generate the most revenue for airlines?
According to OAG, the highest revenue-producing route in the world is British Airways' route between New York's Kennedy (JFK) and London's Heathrow (LHR) airports. And not only is it the highest-grossing route currently being flown, but it's also the only billion-dollar route in service — $1.03 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending in March 2018, to be exact. That's $24,639 per hour over 42,117 scheduled hours, making this route alone worth about "6% of BA’s total revenue in 2017," according to OAG.
The airline runs more than 15 nonstop flights per day between Heathrow and Kennedy. By comparison, US carriers such as Delta, American and United might have as few as four nonstop daily flights between the two major cities, with Delta relying heavily on its partner Virgin Atlantic for nonstop service to the capital of England, while United focuses its efforts entirely at its hub in Newark (EWR) for travelers going in and out of the New York area.
As far as the other top revenue-producing routes around the world, Qantas' service between Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney (SYD) and Emirates' London-Dubai (DXB) route — which is the highest hourly earner — round out the top three on OAG's list at $854 and $819 million per year, respectively. American Airlines' transcontinental New York-Los Angeles (LAX) route is the top domestic earner on the list, coming in at #5 with $698 million, with United's Newark-San Francisco (SFO) service right behind it in sixth place.
Here's the complete list of the top 10 revenue routes in the world, as compiled by OAG and based on its flight schedule and traffic data:
OAG notes that each of the routes that made the list are "high-cost operations, combining generally wide-bodied services with high frequency... Typically, these routes also include a high proportion of business traffic, later booking and higher yielding in nature."
The research company also noted that five of the top 10 highest-grossing routes are in or out of Heathrow airport, which "may explain the ongoing debate about the third runway with the increased competition damaging those lucrative earners."