Which Airports Have the Most Direct International Connections

In this post we will analyze which airports have the most direct international connections using data science


Airbus A380 at Paris CDG. Photo by a Bernard LafondThe expansion of air travel has changed the way we live and work over the last century. The number of flights has increased sharply over the past few decades, and flight tickets are extremely affordable nowadays.

This article lists which airports have the most direct international connections, using data science to determine the number of countries that can be reached directly from all major airports around the world.

Data Analysis

The data used is provided by Open Flights, and available for download at http://openflights.org/data.html
Justin Barton, a data scientist from Australia, used python framework pandas to analyse the data provided by Open Flights, and the code used for the analysis can be found here on GitHub.

It is useful to note that only countries are counted for this airport ranking. If you can fly from Paris CDG to numerous different cities in Spain, for example, this only counts as one country.

The “Most International” Airports

This charts displays the most international airports with the number of countries they have direct flight connections.

As seen above, among the top airports with the most direct international connections, four are in Europe. One reasons for this is that Europe has smaller countries, and in many cases, European airports have more international flights than national.

It is also quite common in Europe that some airports have only international commercial passenger flights, such as Ljubljana, Slovenia.

All of the top five “most international” airports also are a main hub for a flag carrier airline. They are: Lufthansa (Frankfurt), British Airways (London Heathrow), Emirates (Dubai), KLM (Amsterdam Schiphol), Air France (Paris CDG).

Among the top 10 “most international airports” only 3 are outside Europe. Two are Middle Eastern hubs for Qatar Airways (Doha Intl.) and Emirates (Dubai Intl.). The JFK airport in New York is the only airport in the Americas in the top 10 of our list.

Paris CDG – The Airport with Most Direct International Connection

The Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport tops our list of the airports with most direct international connections. One can reach 105 countries flying directly out of Paris, boosting tourism and business in the capital.

A combination of factors has helped the Charles de Gaulle Airport to be in the top of this list.

The first factor is the same mentioned above, for the top 5 airports on this list. The fact that Air France is a flag carrier company and has a strong presence at the Charles de Gaulle Airport definitely contributes to a high number of direct international flights from this airport.

The second reason is the high influx of tourists flocking to the French capital every year. Paris is currently the third most visited city in the world, just behind London and Bangkok (1st).

Paris also has a high number of direct flights to African cities. The country has strong ties with Africa, which date back to the French colonies in the region. Since Africa has numerous countries, this also helps to put the CDG airport at the top of our list.

Obs: Some specific territories were counted separately as an international destination, even if they are in fact part of another country. That is the case for some territories like Guadeloupe (France) and / or special administrative regions like Hong Kong (China). The data was analysed as provided by Open Flight.