News from OpenFlights, the site for flight logging, mapping, stats and sharing

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State of the Data: One million flights!

Calloo, callay, what a frabjous day!  On December 11, 2011, the number of flights entered into OpenFlights crossed the one million mark.  It’s quite a milestone, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for making it possible.  It took just over a year to double the flight count from 500,000, so let’s see what has changed since then.

Top 10 Airlines

Airline 500k rank World rank
1 United/Continental 1 (+2) 1
2 Lufthansa 2 5
3 Delta/Northwest 3 (-2) 2
4 American Airlines 4 4
5 Air France-KLM 5 8
6 British Airways 7 (+1) ?
7 Ryanair 8 (+1) ?
8 US Airways 9 (+1) 7
9 Scandinavian 10 (+1) 10
10 Qantas new ?

Yet another mega-merger brings United/Continental to the top in both IATA’s 2010 stats and on OpenFlights, beating Lufthansa by a hair and pushing reigning champion Delta/Northwest back into 3rd place.  But the rest of the list, astonishingly, is static: since Continental was swallowed by United, its newly freed slot pulls up everybody below #5 up a notch and squeaks Qantas back onto the board at #10 after a near-three-year hiatus, but their ordering is the same.

So who’s missing?  World #2 Southwest continues to be disdained by OpenFlyers, who rank it at #20, a notch down from the previous #19.   Perhaps emboldened by our recent launch in Chinese, new world #6 China Southern Airlines has climbed up six spots but remains distant at #43, with world #9 China Eastern Airlines (world #9)  pipping it by one place to #42

A statistical sidenote: on OpenFlights, we figure out airlines from flight numbers, so regional affiliates not using their parents’ codes are not going to show up here.  Since all the majors have their own sidelines, I figure they’re all disadvantaged more or less equally, and this thus probably doesn’t make a huge difference.

Top 10 Airports

Airport 250k rank World rank
1 Frankfurt Main (FRA) 1 9
2 London-Heathrow (LHR) 2 3
3 Chicago Ohare Intl (ORD) 3 4
4 Munchen (MUC) 5 (+1) 26
5 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) 4 (-1) 6
6 Los Angeles Intl (LAX) 6 5
7 Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS) 7 14
8 Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL) 8 1
9 New York-John F Kennedy Intl (JFK) 9 16
10 San Francisco Intl (SFO) 10 22

No change in the top three, with Frankfurt still reigning supreme, and the rest of the list has remained static as well with the sole exception of Teutonic flyers pushing Munich back up to #4, above Charles de Gaulle.  World #2 Beijing only makes it to #24 on OpenFlights, and still no sign of newly international Haneda, although Narita shows up at #40.

And now for something a little different:

Top 3 Airlines and Airports By Language

Language Share Top 3 airlines Top 3 airports
1 English 76.5% United, Lufthansa, Delta LHR, FRA, ORD
2 Russian 7.8% Aeroflot, S7, Transaero SVO, DME, LED
3 German 7.5% Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Ryanair FRA, MUC, DUS
4 French 3.1% Air France, Lufthansa, Air Austral CDG, ORY, LYS
5 Polish 1.2% LOT Polish, Ryanair, Lufthansa WAW, KRK, KTW
6 Portuguese (Brazilian) 1.1% BRA, TAM, GOL GRU, CGH, BSB
7 Spanish 0.9% Iberia, Ryanair, Alitalia MAD, BCN, ALC
8 Finnish 0.8% Finnair, Lufthansa, Blue1 HEL, FRA, ARN
9 Swedish 0.5% SAS Scandinavian, KLM, Lufthansa ARN, CPH, GOT
10 Chinese (Mandarin) 0.4% Air China, China Southern, China Eastern PEK, SHA, SZX

Splitting up the flight database by the user’s preferred language, it’s surprising (or, on second thought, perhaps not?) how local flying still is: for Russians, Germans, French, Poles, Brazilians, Spaniards and Chinese, all three top airports are in the language’s home country.  The only international hubs that sneaks onto others’ lists are Frankfurt and Stockholm-Arlanda for the Finns and, oddly, Frankfurt for English-speakers as well — presumably simply because many of OpenFlights’ German users have not switched their language.  On the airline side, for every language the flag carrier of the home country dominates, but this time Lufthansa sneaks onto 4 lists outside Germany and Ryanair isn’t far behind at 3.

* * *

Last and least, in less happy news, we have finally put our long-ailing Facebook app out of its misery.  Ideas for what should replace it are welcome, and work is ever-so-slowly continuing on TripIt integration.

To infinity and beyond,

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OpenFlights now in Chinese! 欢迎光临OpenFlights中文版!

OpenFlights has just added over one billion potential users, thanks to a Chinese translation by sscat.  This means that OpenFlights is now available in 12 different languages, and we’re still looking for more — if you can help, take a look at the instructions!  It’s easy and no programming skills are needed.  You can also use the same instructions to edit existing translations if you find something that looks a bit funny.

And if you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of the current user base by language, with an estimate of the language’s share of Internet users in 2011 in parentheses:

  • English 75.7% (26.8%)
  • German 8.1% (3.6%)
  • Russian 8.0% (3.0%)
  • French 3.4% (3.0%)
  • Portuguese 1.1% (3.9%)
  • Spanish 0.9% (7.8%)
  • Finnish 0.9% (n/a)
  • Swedish 0.4% (n/a)
  • Japanese 0.2% (4.7%)
  • Chinese 0.1% (24.2%) — but hey, it’s only been a few days!
  • Lithuanian 0.03% (n/a)

As it turns out, the only top 10 languages not supported by OpenFlights yet are Arabic (#7) and Korean (#10).  Help us fill these gaps!

Polyglottally yours,

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Great Circle meets OpenFlights

Many aviation enthusiasts will be familiar with the Great Circle Mapper, a handy website that does just what it says on the box: maps great circle routes on top of a world map.  And now, thanks to a patch contributed by an OpenFlights user, you can get your OpenFlights maps up on GCM as well: just choose List flights and then click the shiny new GCMap button, which will open up GCM in another tab with a map that looks something like this:

Since the GCMap export is based on the currently shown list of flights, you can apply filters before listing and thus control the output of the map quite precisely.  And since GCM generates its maps as flat images, you can save them locally and reuse them as you wish — although it’s worth bearing in mind that GCM, an external service not affiliated with OpenFlights, retains the copyright to anything you create there.

The same kind contributor also provided the new Class by distance piechart for Analyze, which shows how much time/distance you’ve spent in each class of seat, whereas the existing Class chart just showed number of flights.  As frequent flyers will know, while short hops are quite tolerable even in steerage, it’s the long flights where those lie-flat business seats really make a difference.

In new circles,


Quick and easy URLs for airport and airline route maps

Today’s feature is a new trick by an old pony — now, you can finally open up (or link directly to) airline and airport route maps, instead of needing to go to the main page, type in your search, select the correct choice and load up the map you actually wanted.  Observe:


Alice Springs:

Singapore Changi:

In other words, take, add any of /airline/, /airport/ or /query/, and plug in either a two-letter airline IATA code (eg. AY for Finnair), a three-letter airport IATA code (ASP) or a four-letter airport ICAO code (WSSS), and you’ll get a link to a map of the airline or airport’s routes.  At the moment, it doesn’t matter which form of the URL you use, but the long-term plan is to make query behave in exactly the same way as the  search on the main page, so using the airport/airline forms is preferable if you expect the results to stay the same.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out which airports and airlines are covered by OpenFlights, check out this page for a full listing.  As always, a tip of the hat to Airport Route Mapper for providing our data.

Maptastically yours,


Buggy airport data? Now you can fix it yourself!

Until today, pretty much the only way you could fix a bug in OpenFlights airport data was to submit a bug report, never quite as fast or painless a process as you might hope.  But now, there’s a better way: click on or search for the airport , click the edit icon , tweak the data until you are satisfied and hit “Save changes”.  Previously, this would have give you an error message unless you had actually created the airport in question; now, it will fire off a submission to OpenFlights HQ, where our mad scientists will verify that your suggested change makes sense and either accept or reject it.  Either way, you’ll soon get an e-mail message telling you what happened, and the data will be that much better.

Two caveats: you have to be logged in (the “Save changes” button will be grayed out if you aren’t), and for time being this only works on airports.  If it’s popular enough, we’ll enable this for airlines as well.    Give it a spin and let us know how it works for you!



Facebook updates back online, for now

A few weeks back Facebook once again broke the OpenFlights app, this time in style: by deprecating a critical API call, status updates started to aborted halfway through, causing some people to get an incessant stream of spam since the status went through, but the fact that it went through wasn’t recorded.  Gar!  My patience with Facebook long since exhausted, I simply disabled the updater for time being, but fortunately Niko was kind enough to send us a patch that seems to fix the problem and adds in country names to your updates as a bonus.

So, long story short, if you disabled your app because of this problem, you can turn it on again.  But it’s only a matter of time until Facebook breaks it again.



Animate your flights with FlightGlobe

There’s a long-standing feature request to create an animated “slide show” of your OpenFlights, and I was delighted to find out recently that it’s been done in the best way possible — by somebody else!

FlightGlobe is a nifty desktop application for Mac and Windows that takes an OpenFlights CSV export (“List flights”, then click on “CSV”) and displays them on an animated 3D globe that spins about as you criss-cross the world, providing a neat way of viewing your travels if you’ve been methodical about recording your flight dates.  While the current version is simple and straightforward, the Java source code is available so any programmers out there can try their hand at adding bells and whistles.  Give it a spin!