June 4, 2021, © Leeham News: “Overture can connect more than 500 destinations.”
“More than 500 destinations” leaves a lot of room for interpretation. LNA understands this to mean 500 cities. If UAL and Boom meant “city pairs,” then this commonly used term should have been used.
The common dictionary definition is “the place where someone is going or where something is being sent or taken.”
Examples used in the definition are, “The Virgin Islands are a popular tourist destination,” or a “holiday destination.” More on point, one example used is quite common in airline lingo: the term “final destination.”
So, this lends to the interpretation “500 destinations” means 500 “cities.”
Top 500 Cities
The world’s Top 500 cities are basically those with populations of one million or more. A list may be found here.
As you can imagine, many of these are in China’s interior. Bandar Lampung, Indonesia, is a Top 500. So are Mexicali, Mexico, Da Nang, Vietnam, Tripoli, Libya, Mendoza, Argentina, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Qom, Iran, and Onitsha, Nigeria.
Some of these may well be nice (and not so nice) destinations, but potential Overture markets? Maybe not.
So, what, instead, are the Top 500 airports in the world?
We couldn’t find a comprehensive list. The largest list ended at 100. Basically, these are airports serving more than 23m passengers annually, pre-COVID impact. Wikipedia data tops out at 50. This site lists 2020 and older Top 50 airports.
Many are inland US airports, for which supersonic flight won’t be possible under current regulations.
Expanding the list to the Top 100, for which we could find 2017 numbers, there are many inland airports that must come off the list.
OAG 2019 data
The Official Airline Guide provided LNA its data run for the Top 100 airports in 2019, the last full year before the COVID pandemic decimated traffic. These figures are departure passengers only. The data comes via Global Distribution Systems, which means in-house reservations systems for many low-cost carriers aren’t included, distorting the list somewhat.
But a perusal of the list shows a lot of cities that would not be Overture candidates.
|Departure Total Est. Pax Airport|
So, either United misspoke with the claim Overture will serve 500 “destination” or it and Boom are sniffing their own canola oil fuel.