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The World’s First & Only Billion Dollar Airline Route

Congratulations go to BA for owning the world’s first and only billion dollar airline route. According to data compiled by OAG, BA’s JFK-LHR route across the Atlantic made a whopping $1.15 billion in revenue from April 2018 to March 2019. It’s the first route to top the billion dollar mark. The New York and London route actually reported an increased revenue per hour of 10% over this period. And we can see why, over 30% of BA seats on the route are in either First or Business Class. The importance and the value of the route is clear to see.

The top 10 routes and airlines this year are unchanged from the previous year’s ranking which highlights both how valuable and incontestable some of these are in terms of size and scale. Analysis of the data on a revenue per hour basis this year does reveal some wide variations, amongst the top 10 revenue routes, LHR – JFK at US$27,159 per hour is highest whilst an increasingly competitive YYZ – YVR market and low-cost competition offered just US$11,936 per hour for Air Canada.

Interestingly on a revenue per hour basis nine of the top 10 routes have seen a reduction suggesting that perhaps the levels of competition both directly from other airlines and indirect routes.

The linkage between available capacity and revenue is perhaps best highlighted by five of the top 10 routes operating from Heathrow which in part explains why long-haul airlines rush to fill available slots and existing carriers protect their networks. Equally half of the top ten routes are operated by oneWorld Alliance members with no Skyteam Alliance member route featuring.

Interestingly, London Heathrow is a part of five of the top 10 highest revenue routes. Sydney features in two routes but only one airline, Singapore Airlines operates more than one of the top 10 highest revenue routes. Their LHR-SIN and SYD-SIN routes are each very well trafficked. 

Revenue alone is just a metric and for many of these routes, high frequency wide-bodied services means high operating costs. However, it is equally likely that for each of these airlines ,operating profits are amongst the highest on their respective networks. According to OAG’s John Grant, “Our analysis suggests that there is unlikely to be any great movement either in or out of these tables in the next few years until capacity becomes available and then of course at both ends of the route which for many of these airlines will ensure their status for some time.”

So for now the world’s first and only billion dollar airline route is likely to remain BA’s service connecting the world’s two great financial capitals, London and New York.