Lonely Planet Writer

The busiest air routes in America are not where you think

A new survey has revealed the busiest air routes in the Americas … and it might surprise you that the top spot does not involve the United States. Instead, a one hour flight between the two most populated cities in Brazil, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, takes the top spot. The short hop, with an average fare of just US$93, is catered for by 110 flights every day, the equivalent of one every thirteen minutes.

Iconic skyline of Sao Paulo city, Brazil. Image by Carlos Alkmin/Getty Images

Routesonline examined the top 200 routes in the Americas over the course of a year looking at both capacity and passenger figures. The second busiest route overall connected Mexico City to the resort city of Cancún, world famous for its Caribbean beaches. Almost 3.7 million people travelled on the 1300-kilometre trip last year with an average fare paid of US$72. Coming in third place in the rankings was a much longer flight – the cross-continental trip from New York JFK to Los Angeles. The route, which is flown by American, JetBlue Airways, Delta, and Virgin America was the most expensive of the top twenty flights, with an average fare of US$338.

Rio de Janeiro landscape. Image by Alex Robinson / robertharding/Getty Images

Two other domestic routes completed the top five: Mexico City to Monterrey, and the connection between Lima and Cusco in Peru. The cheapest of the twenty busiest flights was in Colombia, connecting the capital city of Bogota to the country’s second city Medellin. The average fare for that trip was only US$51. The shortest route on the busy list was the inter-island hop from Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu to Kahului on Maui, while the longest was the coast to coast trip from JFK to LAX. Los Angeles was the location for two more from the top ten busiest with connections to San Francisco and Seattle coming in eighth and tenth respectively.

Top Ten Routes With Passenger Numbers and Average Fares in US dollars:

1/ Sao Paolo – Rio de Janeiro, 4.06 million, $93

2/ Mexico City – Cancun, 3.68 million, $72

3/ Los Angeles – New York JFK, 2.87 million, $338

4/ Mexico City – Monterrey, 2.56 million, $84

5/ Lima – Cusco, 2.47 million, $54

6/ Bogota – Medellin, 2.43 million, $51

7/ New York La Guardia – Chicago, 2.36 million, $148

8/ San Francisco – Los Angeles, 2.23 million, $112

9/ Guadalajara – Mexico City, 2.2 million, $75

10/ Los Angeles – Seattle, 1.99 million, $105