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The US is exceptionally decentralized. The vast majority of countries are politically and economically dominated by a single city or pair. Even China with its gigantic population is arguably a three-legged stool.
In a study by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation of the 50 busiest air routes by seats available (not actual passenger loads), the US does not appear until 18. Asia comprises the entire top 10. Multiple airports in major cities like New York and London no doubt skew results, but between Los Angeles (LAX) – San Francisco (SFO) at 18 and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – New York LaGuardia (LGA) at 35 lies the US’ second busiest route: New York John F Kennedy (JFK) – London Heathrow (LHR). The only continental European route appears at 50, Madrid (MAD) – Barcelona (BCN). Washington D.C. never appears but Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) – Hanoi (HAN) is at 14.
The article’s data is great to play with and offers good analysis, such as the impact of quality road and rail infrastructure. The diffuse US air network is reflected in the wide distribution of Fortune 500 headquarters, which roughly mirrors Europe’s economy, reversing east and west. Despite current economic woes, this may factor in the long-term resiliency of the US economy.
The Rapid Traveler generally sticks to offbeat routes but thanks to nearly a decade in China, he has been on 15 of these route. Readers, how many of the 50 have you been on?