The shortest international flights in the world have been revealed by aviation analytics firm OAG after crunching the numbers from 2019’s flight schedules. Despite crossing country borders, many of these flights are unbelievably short, with six of the 10 shortest coming in at under 60 nautical miles long!
Although these figures are based on 2019 and the landscape of 2020 is likely to look very different, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the results and just how short some flights really are.
The shortest border-crossing flight in the world in 2019 was from the Republic of the Congo to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The route takes off from Brazzaville (BZF) in the RoC and lands around 10 minutes later in Kinshasa (FIH) in the DRC. All in, the route is just 13 nautical miles long.
The route crosses the mighty Congo River and connects these two capital cities, the closest capitals in the world. Plans are in place to build a road and rail bridge to facilitate ground connection, with work slated to begin later this year.
Last year, the leading airline operating the route was ASKY Airlines, who flew a Boeing 737 on a triangle routing between Lome (LFW), Brazzaville and Kinshasa. Occasionally it also used a De Haviland Dash 8 between the cities. However, there are some more exciting operations on the route as well.
Royal Air Maroc flies a 737-800 on the route, tagging it on to the end of flight AT269 from Casablanca. Air Cote d’Ivoire flies a milk run route between Lome, Abidjan, Kinshasa and Brazzaville with an Airbus A320 family aircraft. But for an extraordinary trip, Air France brings either its Boeing 777-200 or its A330-200 all the way from Paris to Brazzaville, tagging Kinshasa on the end!
For short flights under 50 nautical miles, there are just two that were operational last year. Bonaire (BON) to Curacao (CUR) flies in at only 40 nautical miles long and was serviced by just 469 flights across the year. FlightRadar24.com data shows that the route has accelerated in popularity, with an average of 111 flights per week now operational.
The main airline on the route is Divi Divi Air, a small regional operator based at Flamingo International in Curacao. For over 17 years, it existed solely to operate the route to BON, although it added Aruba in 2018. It mainly flies the De Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter between the islands and has three in its fleet. It also operates three Britten-Norman BN-2P Islanders which are occasionally deployed for CUR-BON in times of lower demand.
The only other airline you’ll find on this route is a TUI Fly Netherlands Boeing 787-8. It occasionally operates a triangular routing from Amsterdam to Bonaire and then on to Willemstad in Curacao.
The second sub-50 nautical mile route is between Bahrain (BAH) and Dammam (DMM). Around 32 flights per week are scheduled for 2020, and throughout 2019 OAG says that more than 3,000 flights operated the 47 nautical mile-long route.
Gulf Air is the operator for this short hop across the Persian Gulf. The flight takes between 15 and 20 minutes and is typically operated by an A320 family aircraft. Flights have not taken place since early March, however, owing to the current situation.
For international routes between 50 and 60 nautical miles, there are three that were in operation during 2019. The shortest of these was between Helsinki (HEL) in Finland and Tallinn (TLL) in Estonia. Covering just 55 nautical miles, there was a total of 816 flights on the route last year.
FlightRadar24.com data shows some 24 flights per week scheduled on the route for 2020, making it the sixth most popular route from the Finnish capital. Although the route is short, it crosses the vast Gulf of Finland, saving many hours by road or boat.
The sole operator on the route is Finnair, which deploys an ATR 72 on the service multiple times a day for the 20-minute flight. Despite having a break in service from mid-March onwards, the route resumed in early July and is back to regular operations now.
Next shortest is Amman (AMM) in Jordan to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Israel. An astounding 1,952 flights operated on the 59 nautical mile route last year, according to OAG’s analysis. Royal Jordanian previously operated the route, but it is not scheduled at present.
Also coming in at 59 nautical miles, but with a little less frequency, is the route from San Juan (SJU) to St Thomas (STT). Last year, in 2020, FlightRadar24.com shows STT to be the number one destination from SJU, with 148 scheduled flights per week.
An astounding range of airlines serves the 20-minute flight between Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. Cape Air flies a Cessna 402 around once a day, while Seaborne operates under its own code and that of Silver Airways with a Saab 304B.
Ameriflight uses a Beech 1900C or occasionally the rare Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner to complete a triangular routing between Beef Island (EIS), San Juan and St Thomas. Air Flamenco takes the boxy Short SD360-200 on a somewhat irregular basis between the islands. Finally, US carrier JetBlue works an Embraer E190 onto the service as part of a complicated routing involving Santo Domingo and Punta Cana also.
The last four routes in the top 10 shortest international scheduled services in the world are all under 80 nautical miles long. In fact, three of the four are less than 70 nautical miles long.
The shortest is Douala (DLA) in Cameroon to Malabo (SSG), the capital of Equatorial Guinea. The 63 nautical mile route saw 1,629 flights over the year. Cronos Airlines operates an Embraer on the route, while Ceiba Intercontinental uses a 737 or an ATR.
Next is Aruba (AUA) to Curacao (CUR), a 64 nautical mile flight which was operated 1,280 times last year. Curacao remains the number one destination from Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba, with 48 scheduled services a week this year. Divi Divi Air is the main operator here, although Ameriflight brings its Embraer E120ER along too, operating a triangle route that connects to Aguadilla (BQN) also.
For the next shortest flight, we’re off to West Africa, where Cardinal Bernadin Gantin de Cotonou International Airport (COO) sees a route of just 69 nautical miles to nearby Lome (LFW). 503 flights serviced the route last year, with the primary operator ASKY Airlines, using a Boeing 737 or DHC Dash 8. Just occasionally, Royal Air Maroc operates the route as an add-on to its Casablanca to Lome route.
Bizarrely, this is the only one of the top 10 shortest international routes not to fly over water. However, given the difficult state of the roads in this part of West Africa, it’s likely to be a huge time saving exercise compared with the local bus.
The final route in the OAG top 10 shortest international routes for 2019 is up in Europe, flying the 78 nautical mile trip between Stuttgart (STR) and Zurich (ZRH). The flight takes around 45 minutes and is operated by SWISS using an E190.