Recently OAG’s Deirdre Fulton wrote an article about the world’s longest unserved routes. It was compiled using OAG data. The article looked at the world’s top ten unserved routes. It found an average 170,000 passengers annually fly these unserved routes (always via somewhere) and average route length was 7,500 miles. What was surprising was that three of the top ten routes involved Australia.
What needs to be pointed out is that a flight doesn’t have to be nonstop for a route to be considered “served.” For example, no plane is yet (economically) capable of flying nonstop between Sydney (SYD) and London (LHR) but the route is considered served. A number of airlines fly between the two cities and all involve a stopover. But the same aircraft goes through to the end airport with the same flight number.
The third busiest unserved route in the world is between Brisbane (BNE) and London (LHR) with over 200,000 passengers annually. It is easy enough to get between the two cities. There are plenty of flights between Brisbane and say, Singapore, where you can swap over to a London bound flight. But you need to change flights and planes, even if going through on the same carrier.
The eighth busiest unserved route is between Beirut (BEY) and Sydney. That’s a big of a surprise. But Australia has a pretty large Lebanese diaspora and according to OAG, over 110,000 people make the trip every year. Again there are plenty of midway airports when you can do a pretty painless transfer but it will involve an aircraft and flight number change.
Squeaking into the ninth busiest unserved route is Paris (CDG) and Sydney (SYD). This is an interesting one with some history. I remember when both Air France and UTA flew into Sydney. More recently Qantas flew into Paris (I believe it pulled out because there was an issue with slots). Qantas says it would like to go back into Paris, flying nonstop from Perth. But Qantas is locked in a fee dispute with Perth Airport and says it won’t be adding an extra flights out of Perth until the dispute is resolved.
Around 100,000 passengers make the trip between Paris and Sydney each year. No surprise really – who doesn’t want to go to Paris? But right now, you’ll have to change planes and flight numbers at some point along the way.
You’d think these unserved routes would represent an opportunity for an airline, but the airlines are pretty good at running the financial ruler over route possibilities and exploiting opportunities. That they remain unserved suggests they are not viable at the moment.
Out of interest, the OAG list unserved long-haul routes is as follows:
- Los Angeles – Saigon
- Bangkok – Los Angeles
- Brisbane – London
- San Francisco – Saigon
- Dacca – New York
- Paris – Denpasar
- Bangkok – New York
- Beirut – Sydney
- Paris – Sydney