Route analysis: Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon


The route Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon is one of the busiest routes in the world. It connects the capital cities of South Korea and Japan. Between these two countries is the Sea of ​​Japan, and there is no road or rail connection between these two cities, and also between the countries themselves, so traffic between them is carried out either by airplanes or ships. Due to the speed of travel, the plane is certainly a much faster option.

This article analyzes the route on December 13, 2023.

The distance between the airports is slightly more than 1,200 kilometers, and according to the flight schedule, the planes take between 2 and 3 hours to fly. Although the flight itself lasts roughly 2 hours.

On the observed day, there were a total of 60 flights between those two airports, or 30 in one direction. The daily capacity was around 14,400 seats in both directions. If we add that number to 7 days a week, it turns out that the weekly capacity is around 100,000 seats. If we multiply by 30 days, we get a capacity of about 430,000 seats per month. On an annual level, this would amount to about 5,250,000 seats, but due to variations in the flight order and capacities, this figure certainly varies, but not very much from that figure. We can say that the number of seats offered on an annual basis is greater than the total traffic at Zagreb Airport or greater than the population of the Republic of Croatia. So, on an annual level, the entire population of the Republic of Croatia is transported on that route.



11 different airlines flew on that route on the observed day.

The most flights on that route were operated by Jeju Air (10), followed by Asiana, Korean Air and Jin Air with 8 flights. It is interesting that an exotic carrier, “Ethiopian Airlines”, also flies on that route. It connects Addis Ababa with Tokyo with a stopover in Seoul, and has the right to sell tickets on the part of the flight between Tokyo and Seoul.

The following table shows the number of flights per carrier.

If we look at the capacity offered per carrier, then Jeju Air falls to third place, because it only uses narrow-body aircraft (Boeing 737-800) on its flights, while for example Asiana, which is in first place, uses the Airbus A380, which provides a capacity of almost 1,000 seats on two summer. Just Asiana has a little more than 2,700 seats offered in both directions. Jin Air and Jeju Air about 1900 seats, and Korean Air 1800 seats.



If we look at the distribution of capacity according to alliances, then about 60% or about 6,700 seats belong to airlines that are not in any alliance. The strongest alliance in terms of capacity is Star Alliance with around 3300 seats, and of the other global alliance there is only Sky Team with around 1800 seats. It is interesting that on this route there are no representatives from the Oneworld association with their planes, but there is, for example, Japan Airlines, which has a codeshare cooperation with Korean Air. The following alliances on that route are Value Alliance with about 1,900 seats, which has about 100 more seats than Sky Team, and U-FLY Alliance with about 750 seats. Value Alliance and U-FLY Alliance are an association primarily of low-cost airlines, something like that is unimaginable in Europe, at least at the moment, because everyone sticks to “their business”.


Type of Airline

On this route, low-cost airlines dominate with two-thirds of the offered capacity, and slightly less than a third are classic carriers. With only two flights, one hybrid carrier, as it likes to be called, found itself on this list, which is the Korean carrier Air Premia.


Type of Aircrafts on the Route

For avgeeks who have to fly on that route, it’s like a chocolate lover coming to a chocolate shop. There are so many choices of aircraft, from narrow-body to wide-body, there are as many as 11 different types and versions of aircraft on offer. So according to which criteria to choose a flight, you can fly ten times and again you will be able to choose a new combination. The most frequent aircraft on that route is the Boeing 737-800 with 22 flights, followed by the Airbus A321ceo with 10 flights. Airbus A330-300 is in third place, Boeing 787-8 is fourth in number of flights and Boeing 777-200 is fifth. But on the route you will also meet Boeing 737-900, Boeing 737 MAX, Airbus A321neo aircraft.

In terms of seat capacity, there are no major changes in relation to the number of flights, here again the Boeing 737-800 is dominant.


Airbus or Boeing

Boeing aircraft dominate the number of flights, and in almost two-thirds of cases, a Boeing aircraft will be on the flight between Narita and Incheon. Airbus aircraft participate in one third of the flights, while there are no aircraft from other manufacturers.


Wide-body or narrow-body

According to the number of flights on the observed route, narrow-body aircraft fly on two-thirds of all flights, while wide-body aircraft on one-third. But in terms of capacity, the distribution is almost identical, half of the capacity is with narrow-body and half with wide-body aircraft.

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