The Top 10 Biggest Airline Money Making Routes in the World (One Generates a Billion Dollars)

UK airline schedule company OAG, whose air schedule guide was originally called ‘Official Aviation Guide Of The Airways’ has published the top 10 airline routes by revenue. And one airline’s flying generated over a billion dollars last year on a single route: British Airways flying between New York JFK and London Heathrow.

In fact with 5 of the 8 highest-revenue routes for any single airline involving Heathrow it’s no wonder that:

Here’s the full list showing the total revenue an airline earns on each route, and how much revenue per flight hour they generated.

Airline   Market   2017 Revenue   Scheduled Hours   Revenue Per Hour
British Airways LHR-JFK    1,037,724,867                     42,117                        24,639
Qantas SYD-MEL        854,692,402                     35,264                        24,237
Emirates LHR-DXB        819,409,702                     32,378                        25,308
Singapore LHR-SIN        709,730,107                     38,883                        18,253
American LAX-JFK        698,674,321                     50,581                        13,813
United SFO-EWR        687,674,312                     56,693                        12,130
Cathay Pacific LHR-HKG        631,855,868                     44,206                        14,293
Qatar LHR-DOH        552,658,316                     31,264                        17,677
Air Canada YVR-YYZ        552,264,972                     48,253                        11,445
Singapore SYD-SIN        543,723,893                     27,847                        19,525

The highest revenue generated per route isn’t New York JFK – London Heathrow. It’s Emirates’ London Heathrow – Dubai. There’s a reason they run 6 daily Airbus A380s. No matter what you’ve heard from whiny competitors who don’t want Emirates in their back yard, they’re going where the money is.

United crushes San Francisco to the New York area, they’re flying between two of their hubs, while American generates an enormous amount of cash between New York JFK and Los Angeles. No doubt this is why American’s Senior Vice President for Los Angeles Suzanne Boda told me she wishes she had more than 10 first class seats on each flight to sell.

Air Canada’s Toronto – Vancouver operation is very much in line with the US premium transcons, which helps explain why they’ve invested in improving the premium product on that route.

There’s only one short haul city pair that makes the list: Sydney – Melbourne.

Qantas in Melbourne

Qantas runs about three dozen flights a day between the two largest cities in Australia, mostly with Boeing 737s but with a few widebodies thrown in as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Very interesting and you didn’t use “old stock pictures ” !!!!!

  2. They should do it for city pairs for all airlines. NYLON probably still wins, but may be some surprises.

  3. I like the idea of presenting the data as Revenue per Block Hour, as that gives an additional lens beyond RPM/RPK. However, any idea how OAG allocated revenue to the routes? We know that revenue allocation can be tricky with airlines and their networks, and I have to believe that there’s some shenanigans occurring at every airline with respect to which routes are winners and losers.

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