What Are The World’s Shortest International Routes?

At Simple Flying, we report a lot on the world’s longest airline routes. But what about the flipside? What about the world’s shortest international airline routes? OAG released a swag of data last week about flying in 2019, including information on some very short flights.

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Royal Jordanian Airlines operates one of the world’s shortest international flights. Photo: Bjorn Strey via Wikimedia Commons.

But things have changed in the airline world since 2019. When researching this story, we didn’t look at who’s flying this month. Given the state of the aviation industry, current flying activity (or the lack of it) isn’t a reflection of “regular” flying activity.

When this story talks about what airline is flying where, we decided to look at a two-week window towards the end of September 2020, and accessed that information via Google Flights. 

We combined that information with the OAG data. So, with that in mind, here’s a look at the world’s shortest international airline routes.

The tenth shortest international airline route is 78 miles

At 78 miles, the hop between Stuggart (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland) is the world’s tenth shortest international flight. Helvetic operates this sector on behalf of SWISS / Lufthansa. Flying time is 50 minutes. This is one of two European sectors among the world’s top ten shortest international routes.

The ninth shortest international route is between Cotonou (Benin) and Lome (Togo). This sector is just 69 miles. Usually, you can pick up a direct flight on ASKY Airlines- an airline based in Lome which flies around Central and West Africa. The airline takes 40 minutes to jet between the two cities with a Boeing 737.

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You can pick up an ASKY Airlines flight to Cotonou out of Lome Airport. Photo: Hansueli Krapf via Wikimedia Commons.

On the other side of the Atlantic, we have the sector between Aruba and Curacao- two island territories in the Caribbean. At just 64 miles, this is the eighth shortest international airline route. A lot of the flights between these two airports involve a bit of island hopping, but St. Maarten based Winair does operate the sector nonstop using ATR42s. Flying time is 40 minutes.

Unusual routes on some less widely known airlines

Coming in as the seventh shortest international airline route is the sector between Douala (Cameroon) and Malabo (Equatorial Guinea). This sector is just 63 miles. Neither city may be on your regular travel path, but if they ever are, Malabo based CEIBA Intercontinental Airlines takes 40 minutes to cover the distance using a Boeing 737.

The distance between San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Saint Thomas  (US Virgin Islands) is just 59 miles, and this is the world’s sixth shortest international airline route. There’s a little bit of competition on this sector. Flying between the two airports, you could choose from a Silver Airways ATR72 or a JetBlue A320. Flying time is about 35 minutes.

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A JetBlue Airbus will fly you 59 miles between San Juan and Saint Thomas. Photo: Tomas Del Coro via Flickr.

In equal sixth position is the route between Amman and Tel Aviv. The distance is 59 miles. Royal Jordanian Airlines flies the sector several times a day using A319s. The most interesting point about this route is the price, for which the airline charges around USD$1000 for a return trip. On a cost per kilometer rate, this route is right up there at the top.

Cheaper in Finland

Moving up the ladder to the fourth shortest international route, we’re off to Northern Europe and the sector between Helsinki-Vantaa (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia). This sector is 55 miles and is operated by Nordic Regional Airlines on behalf of Finnair using ATR72s. Flying time is 30 minutes. In contrast to the Royal Jordanian flights, a return flight on the Finnair route will cost around USD$200.

The third shortest international airline route is between Bahrain and Dammam (Saudi Arabia). This sector is 47 miles. The nonstop flight is operated by Gulf Air and takes 45 minutes from gate to gate. The Gulf Air flights use an A320.

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You can grab a seat on ASKY Airlines to fly the 13 miles between Kinshasa and Brazzaville. Photo: Colin Cooke Photos via Flickr.

Right up at the pointy end, with barely time to fasten your seatbelt, the sector between Bonaire in the Leeward Antilles and Curacao is the world’s second shortest international flight at just 40 miles. There aren’t a lot of nonstop flights between the two airports, but Winair does operate several services a week using ATR72s.

Just a hop across the river

Taking the top prize for the world’s shortest international airline route is the sector between Brazzaville (Congo Republic) and Kinshasa (The Democratic Republic of the Congo). The Congo River separates the two cities, and the distance between the two airports is just 13 miles. Flights are scarce, but ASKY Airlines operates a few flights a week. Just don’t expect an inflight meal.

There are some fairly unusual routes among the ten shortest international airline routes. Post a comment and let us know if you’ve flown any of them or any other short routes.

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