The world’s airlines opened more than 3,000 new routes last year, according to British specialist website Anna.Aero. Ryanair was the most prolific carrier, with no less than 200 new routes to add to its schedule.

Airlines also launched a total of 3,042 new services last year, almost as many as in 2015 (3,109). Carriers also favoured Airbus aircraft over Boeing planes to carry their passengers to these new destinations. Plus, over half of the new services run between two previously unlinked airports.

Low-cost carriers are large contributors to the increase in routes. EasyJet adds to Ryanair’s 200 new services with 106 new routes. WizzAir opened 100 services and US budget carrier Frontier Airlines takes fourth place with 84 new flights.

Europe was the world’s busiest region when it came to opening new air services, with 13 airlines launching routes in 2016. On a national scale, the United States leads the way with 916 new services, far in front of Spain (395) in second place, then Germany (355), which comes neck and neck with Britain (354).

Growth is likely to continue this year, with 1,150 new airline routes already announced. One year ago, at the same time of year, schedules were already promising as many new flights. Twelve airlines have already announced plans for new services, with Ryanair opening bases in Frankfurt and Naples, and EasyJet offering seasonal return flights to Palma de Mallorca. As for long-haul flights, Qatar Airways made news on Feb 6 when it launched the world’s longest route, from Doha to Auckland, New Zealand, with a flight time of 18 hours, 35 minutes. – AFP Relaxnews