Ultra-short-haul: When takeoff and landing are only minutes apart

Catania Airport (Photo: Robert Spohr).
Catania Airport (Photo: Robert Spohr).

Ultra-short-haul: When takeoff and landing are only minutes apart

Catania Airport (Photo: Robert Spohr).
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In the fascinating world of scheduled flights, there are not only non-stop connections across oceans and continents. There are also flights that focus on the essentials: the shortest route from point A to point B. In this article, we take a look at the shortest scheduled flights in the world and dive into the reasons for their existence.

If self-proclaimed climate protectors have their way, there should generally be no more short-haul flights. While, for example, the Berlin-Vienna route can also be covered overland by long-distance bus or train, it seems between Catania and Luqa quite different. The flight distance is very short and the alternative by ferry by water is time-consuming. When viewed in this article, the route between Sicily and Malta is almost a “long-haul flight”.

Examples of particularly short domestic flights

Westray to Papa Westray, Scotland: This flight, operated by Loganair, is arguably the epitome of a short flight. At just 2,8 kilometers between the Orkney Islands of Westray and Papa Westray, travelers travel the shortest commercial flight route in the world. In less than two minutes the plane takes off and lands again.

Rottnest Island to Perth, Australia: The route from Rottnest Island to Perth is a little longer at around 20 kilometers, but still impressively short. Various airlines offer this service, which usually takes around 10 minutes.

Examples of particularly short international scheduled flights

Saint Kitts to Nevis: The shortest international flight route is from the island of Saint Kitts to Nevis in the Caribbean. The distance between the two islands is only about 3 kilometers and airlines such as LIAT or Winair offer this service to facilitate travel between the islands.

Gibraltar to Morocco (Tangier): Another international short route connects Gibraltar and Tangier in Morocco. The distance across the Strait of Gibraltar is only about 14 kilometers. British Airways and Royal Air Maroc offer this connection.

Formerly: Once across Lake Constance, please!

One of the most notable of the defunct flights was Peoples' short connection between Altenrhein and Friedrichshafen. This flight connected two cities on Lake Constance, which are just 20 kilometers apart as the crow flies. Nevertheless, the flight only lasted about eight minutes.

This flight was notable not only because of its shortness, but also because it was an international scheduled flight between Switzerland and Germany. Unfortunately, this impressive flight was canceled in 2017, and the reasons for this could range from economic viability to changed itineraries.

It should be noted that the “sea flights” were part of flight connections that were offered from Altenrhein with the option of boarding and disembarking in Friedrichshafen. The segment across Lake Constance could be booked regularly and cost around 40 Swiss francs.

Embraer 170 (Photo: V1Images.com/Dirk Grothe).

Why do such short flight routes even exist?

Some reasons for the existence of ultra-short-haul flights are:

Geographical obstacles: In some cases, natural barriers such as bodies of water or inaccessible terrain force travelers to resort to short flights to get from one place to another.

Time saving: Short-haul flights can be the fastest and most convenient travel option in certain situations, particularly when other transport alternatives are less practical or time-consuming.

Tourism and local needs: In regions with many islands, such as Scotland's Orkney Islands or the Caribbean, short flights are often used for tourism and allow travelers to reach multiple destinations quickly.

Although short flights are generally less environmentally friendly, it's worth considering sustainable travel options wherever possible. Nevertheless, these short scheduled flights are a fascinating example of the diversity and efficiency of the global air transport network.

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Editor of this article:

Amely Mizzi is Executive Assistant at Aviation Direct Malta in San Pawl il-Baħar. She previously worked in the Aircraft and Vessel Financing division at a banking group. She is considered a linguistic talent and speaks seven languages ​​fluently. She prefers to spend her free time in Austria on the ski slopes and in summer on Mediterranean beaches, practically on her doorstep in Gozo.
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About the editor

Amely Mizzi is Executive Assistant at Aviation Direct Malta in San Pawl il-Baħar. She previously worked in the Aircraft and Vessel Financing division at a banking group. She is considered a linguistic talent and speaks seven languages ​​fluently. She prefers to spend her free time in Austria on the ski slopes and in summer on Mediterranean beaches, practically on her doorstep in Gozo.
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Nobody likes paywalls
- not even Aviation.Direct!

Information should be free for everyone, but good journalism costs a lot of money.

If you enjoyed this article, you can check Aviation.Direct voluntary for a cup of coffee Coffee trail (for them it's free to use).

In doing so, you support the journalistic work of our independent specialist portal for aviation, travel and tourism with a focus on the DA-CH region voluntarily without a paywall requirement.

If you did not like the article, we look forward to your constructive criticism and / or your suggestions for improvement, either directly to the editor or to the team at with this link or alternatively via the comments.

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