London leads on long-haul travel

London continues to be at the centre of global air
travel, with six of the past decade’s 10 fastest growing long-haul routes
going through London’s major airports. Analysis by Ascend underlines the UK capital’s
position as a global economic and leisure hub.      London holds its number one
position despite all the challenges from other European continental
airports and rising airport congestion in the UK. 

Over the past 10 years, the London and Dubai route has grown faster than
any other. On flights between the two cities, the number of seats available
has more than tripled since 1996. Almost 850,000 more seats were available
in the skies between the two cities from January to June of this year, than
there were in the first half of 1996.  This equates to some 50 more flights
each way, each week.

According to Ascend, the world?s top 10 long-haul global growth routes are:

1.      London - Dubai
2.      London - Chicago
3.      London - Hong Kong
4.      Melbourne - Singapore
5.      Sydney - Singapore
6.      London - Singapore
7.      London - Mumbai
8.      Dubai - Singapore
9.      London - New York
10.      Brisbane - Singapore

Flights between London and Chicago experienced the second highest increase
with over 520,000 more seats available in the same period, while space for
an additional 480,000 passengers on London/Hong Kong flights is now


Seats on flights within the Asia Pacific region have also increased
substantially, most prominently between Singapore and Melbourne, Sydney and

Dubai flies high

The London to Dubai route soared in popularity over the past decade,
overtaking previously more popular routes such as London to Singapore,
London to Chicago and Singapore to Sydney. This growth has been driven
largely by Emirates successful expansion; Emirates now operates 62 flights
a week between London and Dubai (based on July 2006 schedules).

“The huge increase of passenger activity between London and Dubai has
mirrored Dubai’s growth as a substantial regional power in the areas of
tourism, construction, finance and trade over the past decade,” says Gehan
Talwatte, Managing Director of Ascend. “Free trade zones, a shift towards a
more service-orientated economy, a state of the art international airport,
and wide choice of luxury resorts are all making Dubai an increasingly
attractive destination for tourists.”

“The rise in the importance of Dubai and Singapore to global aviation
reflects the liberal regulatory approach to the airline industry taken by
their respective governments,” Talwatte says.

Uncle Sam loses out

The biggest loser of the past decade in terms of seat numbers is the
Honolulu/Tokyo route, on which the number of available seats has dropped by
almost 670,000 since the first half of 1996.

Once at the forefront of Japanese tourism, which boomed in the late 1990s,
Hawaii remains a major market, but has suffered a drop in visitors from
Japan over the past decade driven by a variety of factors.

“Exchange rates, fluctuations in the Japanese economy, changes in tourism
trends, airline financial crises, concerns following September 11th and the
rise of competing local Asian tourism markets,” Talwatte says, “have all
served to hit demand in the traditional Japan-US travel markets. Further
recent issues on visa restrictions and instability in the South American
economies have also hit the ‘within Americas’ markets.”