This striking quote is from a recent profile of the city in CapX. Over at The Pudding, that observation sparked some interesting work visualizing the number of flights leaving from cities around the world each day.
Matt Daniels notes that Kinshasa, with its 13 million residents, has about 13 outbound flights each day. That’s just slightly more than Barrow, Alaska, which has 10 daily flights for its population of 5000 people. Conversely, over 900 flights depart from Paris each day (pop. 13 million as well).
As shown in the graph below, Lagos also has substantially fewer flights than one might expect given its size. In general, you’re better off predicting the number of flights from a city by looking at its economy, rather than its overall population. New York seems to be an outlier here because it’s a primary transit point between two wealthy regions (Europe and North America).