The globe is criss-crossed a million times over with flight routes, buzzing with planes throughout the day.
Sometimes market forces and competitive advantage come together to make some routes more lucrative than others.
One route stands out from all the rest, the only one to break the billion-dollar barrier: British Airways’ service between London Heathrow and New York’s JFK.
UK-based air travel intelligence company OAG has crunched the data to discover the routes and airlines that generate the highest revenue around the world, in both total annual revenue and revenue per hour.
The JFK-LHR route earned British Airways more than $1.15 billion between April 2018 and 2019. With more than 600 flights per month, that breaks down to a hourly revenue of $27,159 – a 10% increase on last year.
“With over 30% of BA seats on the route in either first or business class the importance and the value of the route is clear to see,” says OAG on its blog.
Best of the rest
Qantas Airways’ domestic service between Melbourne and Sydney is second on the list, generating more than $861 million a year.
Heathrow Airport confirmed its importance as an international hub by its appearance in half of the airline routes to make the top 10. Emirates’ service to Dubai is at No. 3, Singapore Airlines’ route to Singapore Changi is at No. 4, Qatar Airways’ service to Doha is at No. 7, and Cathay Pacific’s route to Hong Kong is at No. 8.
Three North American domestic routes also broke the top 10. United Airlines’ San Francisco to Newark route delivered annual revenue of $689 million dollars, although American Airlines’ LAX to JFK service generates more revenue per hour: $13,000.
Air Canada’s Vancouver to Toronto service squeaked into the top 10, with annual revenue of $541 million dollars.
Singapore Airlines’ Sydney to Changi route, though with a less frequent service than others on the list, was one of the most lucrative in terms of hourly revenue: more than $20,000.
British Airways flies from Heathrow to JFK up to 15 times a day, capturing the lion’s share of premium customers on this prestigious business route.
In March 2020, competitors Delta, partnering with Virgin Atlantic, will add a third daily round-trip between JFK and Heathrow, bringing the daily flights between the two partners to eight.
British Airways operates Boeing 747s and Boeing 777-200s on its Heathrow to JFK service. Those premium customers will soon be able to enjoy its new Club Suite, which will be rolled out across London Heathrow long-haul by the end of 2019.
Bedding is by the White Company, which also provides the amenities for business customers. Over in first class, they’re slipping on their Temperley London loungewear and pampering themsleves with the seven-piece skin and body care collection from Elemis.
The Club World sleeper service, with lie-flat bed, is available on the return flight from JFK only.
Highest-revenue routes by airline: April 2018 – March 2019
1. British Airways: New York JFK – London Heathrow (Total revenue: $1,159,126,794 / revenue per hour: $27,159)
2. Qantas Airways: Melbourne – Sydney (Total revenue: $861,260,322 / revenue per hour: $23,773)
3. Emirates: London Heathrow – Dubai International (Total revenue: $796,201,645 / revenue per hour: $24,926)
4. Singapore Airlines: London Heathrow – Singapore Changi (Total revenue: $735,597,614 / revenue per hour: $18,771)
5. United Airlines: San Francisco International – Newark (Total revenue: $689,371,368 / revenue per hour: $12,882)
6. American Airlines: Los Angeles LAX – New York JFK (Total revenue: $661,739,788 / Revenue per hour: $13,099)
7. Qatar Airways: London Heathrow – Hamad International (Total revenue: $639,122,609 / revenue per hour: $20,415)
8. Cathay Pacific Airways: Hong Kong International – London Heathrow (Total revenue: $604,595,063 / revenue per hour: $13,887)
9. Singapore Airlines: Sydney – Singapore Changi (Total revenue: $549,711,946 / revenue per hour: $20,821)
10. Air Canada: Vancouver YVR – Toronto Pearson International (Total revenue: $541,122,509 / revenue per hour: $11,936)