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A Network Map of the World’s Air Traffic Connections

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A Network Map of the World's Air Traffic Connections

A Network Map of the World’s Air Traffic Connections

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

In 2017, airlines moved over four billion passengers, a number that continues to grow each year.

As more and more people around the world can afford to scratch their travel itch, new connections and airports will be created to meet that demand. Remarkably, the world’s air transport network doubles in size every 15 years, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that it will do so again by the year 2030.

Today’s data visualization – created by researcher, Martin Grandjean – is a dramatic look at over 3,200 air traffic hubs that connect our world’s population centers. The unique, force-directed layout allows us to see relationships beyond geographical location.

air traffic network map

As the GIF above reveals, Europe remains an important linchpin in international travel, and cities on North America’s West Coast – such as Vancouver and San Francisco – swing in response to Asia’s gravitational pull.

The World’s Most Connected Airports

While all airports are effective at moving passengers from point A to B, particular locations play a crucial role in the global network. To help put this connectivity between airports into perspective, OAG created the Megahubs International Index.

Below are the top 50 internationally connected airports:

RankAirportAirport NameCountryConnectivity Index
1LHRHeathrowUnited Kingdom379
2FRAFrankfurtGermany307
3AMSAmsterdam SchipholNetherlands299
4ORDO'HareUnited States295
5YYZToronto PearsonCanada271
6SINSingapore ChangiSingapore257
7CGKSoekarno–HattaIndonesia256
8ATLHartsfield–JacksonUnited States256
9KULKuala LumpurMalaysia242
10CDGCharles de GaulleFrance242
11LAXLos AngelesUnited States235
12HKGHong KongHong Kong233
13BKKSuvarnabhumiThailand226
14MUCMunichGermany221
15ISTIstanbul AtatürkTurkey219
16MIAMiamiUnited States204
17ICNIncheonSouth Korea196
18JFKJohn F. KennedyUnited States195
19IAHGeorge BushUnited States184
20DXBDubaiUnited Arab Emirates183
21MEXMexico CityMexico176
22EWRNewark LibertyUnited States170
23PVGShanghai PudongChina167
24SYDSydneyAustralia167
25DELIndira GandhiIndia166
26YVRVancouverCanada165
27DFWDallas/Fort WorthUnited States164
28HNDHanedaJapan163
29SFOSan FranciscoUnited States153
30FCORome FiumicinoItaly145
31PEKBeijing CapitalChina142
32CANGuangzhou BaiyunChina141
33BOMChhatrapati ShivajiIndia140
34MADMadrid–BarajasSpain138
35NCENice Côte d'AzurFrance133
36JNBO. R. TamboSouth Africa133
37NRTNaritaJapan132
38MNLNinoy AquinoPhilippines131
39SEASeattle–TacomaUnited States130
40BOSLoganUnited States128
41BOGEl DoradoColombia127
42GRUSão Paulo–GuarulhosBrazil120
43YULMontréal–TrudeauCanada118
44ZRHZurichSwitzerland115
45SVOSheremetyevoRussian Fed.114
46SJULuis Muñoz MarínPuerto Rico114
47PTYTocumenPanama108
48VIEViennaAustria107
49MCOOrlandoUnited States107
50AKLAucklandNew Zealand106

The heavyweight airport leading the world in international connectivity is London Heathrow. This busy air traffic hub recently had a mind-blowing 72,000 possible international connections within a 6-hour window of arriving and departing flights. Heathrow moved over 78 million passengers and 1.70 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2017.

According to OAG, Singapore Changi and El Dorado International Airport in Colombia were the most connected airports in Asia–Pacific and South America, respectively. O. R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg was the sole African airport to crack the top 50.

America’s Most Connected Airports

Below are the top 25 most connected airports in the United States:

RankAirportAirport NameCityConnectivity Index
1ORDO'HareChicago455
2ATLHartsfield–Jackson AtlantaAtlanta390
3CLTCharlotte DouglasCharlotte238
4DFWDallas/Fort WorthDallas207
5DENDenverDenver186
6DTWDetroit Metro. Wayne CountyDetroit139
7MSPMinneapolis–Saint PaulMinneapolis–St. Paul126
8LAXLos AngelesLos Angeles114
9HNLDaniel K. InouyeHonolulu104
10PHXPhoenix Sky HarborPhoenix103
11IAHGeorge BushHouston102
12BOSBoston LoganBoston95
13SEASeattle–TacomaSeattle87
14PHLPhiladelphiaPhiladelphia85
15SFOSan FranciscoSan Francisco84
16SLCSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City79
17MDWChicago MidwayChicago75
18DCARonald Reagan WashingtonWashington65
19IADWashington DullesWashington57
20DALDallas Love FieldDallas56
21EWRNewark LibertyNewark54
22LASMcCarranLas Vegas54
23BWIBaltimore–WashingtonBaltimore53
24LGALaGuardiaNew York51
25STLSt. Louis LambertSt. Louis43

While Atlanta Airport, the second most connected hub, has more scheduled domestic capacity, O’Hare’s scheduling offered more connection possibilities for passengers. Both these powerhouse transport nodes show up very clearly on the network map above.

No Fly Zones

There is a grand total of five countries in the world that have no airport and, interestingly, they’re all in Europe. Vatican City and Monaco are simply too small to accommodate an airport.

The remaining three – Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein – rely on neighboring countries and/or helicopter pads for their air travel needs.

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VC+: Get Our Key Takeaways From the IMF’s World Economic Outlook

A sneak preview of the exclusive VC+ Special Dispatch—your shortcut to understanding IMF’s World Economic Outlook report.

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VC+ Special Dispatch - Your shortcut to understanding IMF's World Economic Outlook

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Preview images of Visual Capitalist's breakdown of the IMF World Outlook report

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