The World’s Shortest Widebody Routes Revealed

Something is alluring about widebodies on short-haul routes, many of which are simply tag-on services to long-haul services. There’s some controversy over the world’s shortest, which we explore.

Turkish A330
Turkish Airlines almost equally uses the A330-200 and the B737 MAX on Istanbul-Zanzibar-Dar Es Salaam-Istanbul. The Zanzibar-Dar leg is just 45 miles (63km), but it isn’t bookable due to being domestic and cabotage. Photo: Paul Spijkers via Wikimedia.

The world’s shortest widebody flights

At just 16 miles (26km), Air France’s Brazzaville to Kinshasa is the world’s shortest. That’s based on examining all available flights between November 26th and March 26th, the last day of the aviation winter season, using Cirium. But as we see below, it isn’t this straightforward.

  1. Brazzaville to Kinshasa (and back) by Air France; 16mi (26km); 40 min; B777-200ER
  2. Fuerteventura to Lanzarote by TUI fly Netherlands; 37mi (60km); 30 min; B767-300ER
  3. Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam by KLM & Turkish; 45mi (73km); 55 min; B777-200ER and B787-10 (KLM); A330-200 (Turkish)
  4. Curaçao to Bonaire by TUIfly Netherlands; 47mi (76km); 30 min; B787-8
  5. Bahrain to Dammam (and back) by Gulf Air; 54mi (86km); 40-45 min depending on direction; B787-9
  6. St Kitts to Antigua (and back) by BA 62mi (100km); 30-45 min; B777-200ER
  7. Amman to Tel Aviv (and back) by Royal Jordanian; 68mi (109km); 45 min; B787-8
  8. Freetown to Conakry by Air France; 72mi (116km); 35 min; B777-200ER
  9. Tenerife South to Gran Canaria; by TUI fly Netherlands; 73mi (117km); 40 min; B767-300ER
  10. Aruba to Curaçao by TUI fly Netherlands; 74mi (120km); 40 min; B787-8
Air France
Depending on the day, Air France routes either Paris-Brazzaville-Kinshasa-Paris or Paris-Kinshasa-Brazzaville-Paris. The flight time between the two African cities is often 11 to 12 minutes. Image: Radarbox.com.

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Bookable or not?

Air France’s 16-mile hop isn’t bookable in its own right, with passengers only able to book to Paris or beyond. Indeed, most very short routes aren’t bookable because they don’t have fifth freedom traffic rights or so they can fill up on higher-yielding traffic or because they’re domestic services and are subject to cabotage.

The shortest bookable route appears to be Gulf Air’s Bahrain to Dammam. This only occasionally has widebodies scheduled, but they do appear in-between A320s and A321s. It’s a termination service: it ends in Dammam and returns to Gulf Air’s Bahrain hub. In contrast, most others in the list are triangular routes.

KLM 787-10
Triangular services stop only in one direction, enabling another destination to be served easier, quicker, and less expensively, especially if they don’t have the demand or yield to warrant a dedicated non-stop. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Distance or time?

With a block time of 40 minutes, Brazzaville-Kinshasa isn’t the world’s shortest if time is considered. That goes to Fuerteventura-Lanzarote before it returns to Amsterdam, joining the same carrier between Curaçao and Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean before it departs home.

British Airways’ Antigua to St Kitts is also blocked at half an hour, but it is 15 minutes longer the other way. It routes Gatwick-Antigua-St Kitts-Antigua-Gatwick. It arrives in Antigua at 14.15, departs an hour later to St Kitts, has 90 minutes on the ground, and leaves at 17:15 for the nearby island.

What is your shortest widebody flight? Let us know in the comments.

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