Record number of planes in the air at once

If you think the solution to avoiding traffic is taking to the air, here's a sobering statistic.

On June 29 there 202,157 flights tracked worldwide - breaking the 200,000 mark for the first time, according to Flight Radar 24, a website that tracks planes in real-time.

"Yesterday was the busiest day of the year in the skies so far and our busiest day ever," the Sweden-based site said on Twitter.

"202,157 flights tracked! The first time we've tracked more than 200,000 flights in a single day."

More than 19,000 flights were tracked at the peak.
More than 19,000 flights were tracked at the peak. Photo credit: Flight Radar 24

More than 19,000 planes were in the air at once at the day's peak. In a screenshot posted to Facebook, heavy flight traffic can be seen above the US, Europe, the Middle East and India, and southeastern Asia.

Large parts of the world remain unblemished however - notably western China, much of Russia and northern Scandinavia, central Africa and western Australia.

Only one brave pilot appears willing to fly over Libya.

Flight Radar uses UTC - Coordinated Universal Time - which is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time, so about 12 hours behind New Zealand (when daylight saving isn't in effect).

June 29's record traffic was almost twice the quietest day in the past 12 months, which Flight Radar 24 says was Christmas Day - but there were still 101,511 planes in the air that day.

Flight Radar 24's site tracks any plane in the air with a transponder. It says concurrent flight numbers usually peak around 16,000 in July or August.

Air New Zealand says its top 10 days each year usually happen between December 20 and mid-January.

According to the International Air Transport Association, around 4 billion passengers fly each year. That's expected to double over the next two decades.

Despite the growing number of flights, the Aviation Safety Network says only 85 aircraft have disappeared without trace since 1948. The most recent passenger flight to disappear was Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in 2014.