With almost three million passengers flying the 5,500 km journey, the route between London Heathrow (LHR) and New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) has taken the crown as Europe's busiest international scheduled service, research by Routesonline has found.

A total of 2,919,864 passengers boarded flights between the two destinations in 2018, according to the latest data from Sabre Market Intelligence, representing a rise of 1.8% compared with the previous 12 months.

Four airlines served the market last year, led by British Airways which commanded a 40.7% share of all available seats on offer. Virgin Atlantic had a 28.5% capacity share, American Airlines had  20.6% and Delta Air Lines had 10.2%.

The ascent of London Heathrow - New York John F Kennedy to the position as the busiest international route to/from and within Europe followed a 16.6% year-on-year decline in the number of passengers flying between London Heathrow and Dubai International (DXB).

Figures from Sabre show that 2,674,872 passengers flew non-stop between the UK's busiest airport and United Arab Emirates city in 2018, down from 3,206,776 a year earlier. Five airlines served the market although two of them - Qantas Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines - ended service during the year.

Although Qantas continues to codeshare with Emirates on flights between Dubai and London, it ceased flying its own metal to Dubai in February 2018 after opting to reroute its Sydney - London Heathrow flight via Singapore. Royal Brunei Airlines ended operations to London Heathrow via Dubai in late October, in favour of a direct flight to England's capital city from its Brunei hub.

Completing the top three is the short 449km flight between London Heathrow and Dublin, the capital of Ireland. The route is a duopoly between Aer Lingus and British Airways, both owned by International Airlines Group, which had a 65%and 35% share of the market respectively.

In total, London Heathrow appears in eight of the top ten busiest international routes to/from and within Europe, underlining its position as a major global hub. Only Istanbul Atatürk (IST) - Tehran (IKA) in fourth and Paris (CDG) - New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) in ninth did not feature the UK airport.

Steven Small, brand director of Routes, said: "European carriers' international traffic climbed 6.6% in 2018, according to the latest IATA figures, while load factor increased to 85.0% which was the highest for any region in the world.

"Although the industry is facing its challenges, there is much to be optimistic about. European airlines are expected to report a $7.4bn net profit in 2019 and we will also see new and exciting city pairs opening as aviation continues to be a key enabler of economic growth and prosperity.

Top ten busiest international air routes to/from and within Europe in 2018 with figures for 2017 and percentage change.

1.       London Heathrow (LHR) - New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) 2018 - 2,919,864 2017 -   2,867,964  plus 1.8%

2.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Dubai International (DXB)       2018 - 2,674,872 2017  - 3,206,776 minus 16.6%

3.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Dublin (DUB)                         2018 - 1,810,131  2017 - 1,801,543 plus 0.5%

4.       Istanbul Atatürk (IST) - Tehran (IKA)                            2018 - 1,745,243  2017 - 1,587,962 plus 9.9%

5.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Amsterdam (AMS)                 2018 - 1,727,608   2017 - 1,678,151 plus 2.9%

6.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Los Angeles (LAX)                  2018 - 1,615,671  2017 -  1,566,842 plus 3.1%

7.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Singapore (SIN)                     2018 - 1,569,001  2017 -  1,349,913 plus 16.2%

8.       London Heathrow (LHR) - Hong Kong (HKG)                   2018  - 1,556,968  2017  - 1,574,680 minus 1.1%

9.       Paris (CDG) - New York John F. Kennedy (JFK)                   2018  - 1,549,227  2017  - 1,522,496 plus 1.8%

10.   London Heathrow (LHR) - Frankfurt International (FRA)     2018  - 1,541,680 2017 -  1,493,512 plus 3.2%