Despite being one of the best-served countries in the world by flights, the United States has thousands of routes that do not have access to non-stop flights. New York’s JFK Airport and Los Angeles International Airport alone feature on five of the top 10 unserved major routes in the world.
With thousands of airlines offering air travel services around the world, the world is now more connected than ever. But still, many routes have no scheduled air service despite high passenger traffic. Often, passengers on these routes travel indirectly, that is, they use at least one connection to reach their final destination. Global data specialists OAG have released the top 10 unserved routes – the flight routes with the most people traveling indirectly between two points, based on passenger booking data for August 2021-July 2022. Let’s find out which air routes are largely unserved around the world.
10. Newark Liberty-Guayaquil (EWR-GYE)
The airline of Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) is the tenth largest unserved sector in the world, where a total of 73,647 passengers traveled with a direct flight option during a 12-month period of August 2021 to July 2022. The EWR-GYE connects the city of Newark to the capital of the province of Guayas in Ecuador. Since we or South American carriers do not offer non-stop flight options, passengers travel primarily with a single connection in cities such as New York, JFK, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, etc. Carriers like American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, COPA, etc. provide indirect service on the EWR-GYE route.
9. Rome-San Francisco (FCO-SFO)
Also on the list of the largest unserviced routes in the world is a passenger route from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) to San Francisco Airport (FSO). This origin and destination pair saw 75,219 passengers use at least one connection for their FCO-SFO journey. The FCO-SFO couple connects the capital of Italy, Rome, to San Francisco, the commercial and cultural capital of Northern California. Passengers on this Europe-North America route can travel via connecting flights offered by carriers like Lufthansa, British Airways, WestJet, ITA, Air France, KLM, American Airlines, Air Canada, Tap Air Portugal, etc.
8. Athens-Los Angeles (ATH-LAX)
Athens-Los Angeles itinerary. Travelers from Athens International Airport (ATH) to Los Angeles International Airport and vice versa will need connecting flights to travel between these two points as there is no direct air service. Airlines such as Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Air France, ITA, SWISS, United, Delta, American Airlines, etc. operate indirect air services on the ATH-LAX route.
7. Bombay-New York JFK (BOM-JFK)
The route between India’s largest city, Mumbai (BOM), and the Big Apple, New York (JFK), is the seventh largest unserved passenger route in the world, with 81,716 passengers traveling indirectly in 12 months . Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai is the second busiest airport in the country, offering direct connections across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. The BOM-JFK route sees a lot of business travelers as both cities are technology hubs, not to mention VFR passengers as New York has the highest concentration of Indian population in the country.
Carriers like British Airways, KLM, Emirates, Air India, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Air France, Lufthansa, Vistara, etc. fly indirectly on the BOM-JFK route. The good news is that Air India is expected to operate a direct flight from Mumbai airport to JFK airport from 1 February 2023. Air India flight AI119 will operate BOM-JFK service, while AI116 will start JFK flight -BOM.
6. Toronto-Tehran Imam (YYZ-IKA)
A largely unserved market for Canada is Tehran, Iran, where 81,716 passengers flew indirectly between Toronto Lester B Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Imam Khomeini International Airport in 12 months (August 2021-July 2022 ). The YYZ-IKA flight pair, connecting the capital of the province of Ontario with the capital of Iran, is the sixth longest unserved route in the world. Carriers like Air Canada, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, UAE, etc. offer indirect flights between Toronto and Tehran. Flag carrier Air Canada connects flights on the YYZ-IKA sector in codeshare with other airlines like Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Kuwait Airways, etc.
5. Taipei Taiwan-Jeju (TPE-CJU) – Unserved Air Routes
Number five on the list is an Asian route connecting the capital of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the South Korean city of Jeju. The passenger flight from Taipei Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) to Jeju International Airport (CJU) is the shortest route with the highest number of travelers traveling indirectly between two Asian cities. In 12 months, 82,590 passengers traveled on the TPE-CJU line, using at least one connection to reach the final destination. Although the route is short and has enough passengers to potentially support a direct service, airlines have yet to consider flying nonstop between Taipei and Jeju.
Travelers can get connecting flights provided by Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Eva Air, Tigerair Taiwan, etc., to travel from Taipei to Jeju.
4. Los Angeles-Yerevan (LAX-EVN) – Unserved Air Routes
The US destination of Los Angeles appears again in the largest list of unserved air routes, but this time with the Armenian capital Yerevan. Los Angeles-Yerevan (LAX-EVN) is an air route with the fourth highest volume of passengers traveling indirectly between these two points in 12 months. A total of 88,571 travelers traveled indirectly on the LAX-EVN route without direct scheduled flight service. The direct flight service between Los Angeles International Airport and Zvartnots International Airport will be instrumental in meeting the needs of the large Armenian expatriate community in Los Angeles.
3. London Heathrow-Kathmandu (LHR-KTM) – Unserved Air Routes
The relationship between the UK and Nepal is not just about military. Besides the Gurkhas recruited into the British army, many Nepalese travel to the UK to study and work. Additionally, London is the region of the UK with the largest population born in Nepal. It is therefore evident that there are a large number of passengers traveling between the capitals of the UK and Nepal. Based on one year passenger booking data, London Heathrow-Kathmandu is the third largest unserved route in the world, with 89,222 passengers traveling indirectly between these two cities. The LHR-KTM route undoubtedly serves London’s large Gurkha community and international students and workers.
Nepalese traveling to London or Britons coming to the Nepalese capital undertake their journey via connecting flights offered by Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, flyDubai, Kuwait Airways, etc. Qatar Airways customers traveling from Kathmandu to London Heathrow will stop over at Hamad International Airport in Doha. Similarly, Kuwait connects Tribhuvan International Airport to Heathrow Airport with a stopover at Kuwait International Airport. Similarly, FlyDubai also offers an LHR-KTM service with a stopover at Dubai International Airport.
2. Ho Chi Minh City-Los Angeles (SGN-LAX)
With an annual passenger volume of 90,031, the air route between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Los Angeles in the United States is the second largest unserved route without a direct air connection. Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are busy airports in their respective countries, but they do not have direct flight connections. Also, none of the carriers offer regular non-stop flights from Ho Chi Minh City to America, except for the state-owned Vietnam Airlines (serving San Francisco).
Los Angeles is home to one of the largest Vietnamese-American populations in the country, so it seems fitting that a large number of people travel the SGN-LAX route each year. As there is no direct service, travelers fly from SGN airport to LAX airport with stopovers in Singapore, Narita, Incheon, San Francisco, Manila, etc., depending on the airlines they fly with . Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Korean Air, China Airlines, Eva Air, etc. operate indirect services in the SGN-LAX sector.
1. Quito-New York JFK (UIO-JFK)
The highest origin/destination pair in terms of the largest unserved air routes in the world between August 2021 and July 2022, in terms of the highest volume of air passengers traveling indirectly between two points, is the corridor between the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito (UIO) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. According to passenger booking data, the UIO-JFK pair had the highest number of passengers at 90,693 flying indirectly between two cities. Such a volume of passengers represents a significant market for an airline, sufficient to potentially operate a direct service.
Due to the lack of direct access, passengers must stop at airports such as José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Brac Airport, Miami Airport, Atlanta Airport, Mexico City airport, etc., depending on the airline they are traveling with on the UIO-jfk itinerary. Avianca Airlines, Aeromexico, LATAM, American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue are some of the major carriers indirectly operating UIO-JFK service.