Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Advertisement: Travel data provider OAG recently crunched the numbers from 2019 to produce its comprehensive 'Busiest Routes 2020' report. As well as covering the world's busiest and most competitive routes, it also analyzes each region's longest and shortest scheduled flights.

Europe, for example, is home to 10 routes that are less than 80 miles long. To qualify, a route must be served by at least 360 scheduled flights a year. We shall now examine each of them in greater detail.

Many of Europe's shortest flights connect neighboring Spanish islands.

Despite this, flag carrier Iberia does not have a presence on all of these routes. Photo: Getty Images

Short routes internationally and domestically

As a continent, Europe sees many countries situated in close proximity to one another. This means that, while one might expect a region's shortest flights to be domestic routes, this isn't entirely the case here.

Indeed, OAG's report shows that two of the top 10 shortest European routes see neighboring countries connected. This is the case for the shortest route of them all, as we shall now see.

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1) Helsinki, Finland-Tallinn, Estonia - 55 miles

This short hop is served by 816 scheduled flights a year, operated by flag carrier Finnair. The corridor also represents Helsinki-Vantaa's 15th busiest European route.

From Helsinki, the journey to the Estonian capital, served by Lennart Meri Airport, is scheduled to take 35 minutes. Flights are operated for Finnair by Nordic Regional Airlines (known as Norra) using ATR 72 turboprop aircraft.

Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Finnair serves the 55-mile route from Helsinki to Tallinn. Photo: Getty Images

2) Gran Canaria-Tenerife North - 60 miles

This 60-mile jaunt connects two of Spain's Canary Islands, which lie just off the northwest coast of Africa.

The route is served by 3,548 scheduled flights a year, operated by regional carriers Binter Canarias and CanaryFly. Flights are scheduled to take half an hour, and, much like Europe's shortest route, also utilize ATR turboprop aircraft.

3) Gran Canaria-Tenerife South - 63 miles

Just three miles longer than the route to Tenerife North, this route sees far less traffic than Europe's second shortest route. Tenerife South has a far more international focus than its northern counterpart.

Advertisement: As such, it is served by just under a seventh of the scheduled flights from Gran Canaria to Tenerife North, coming in at 503 a year. This is partly due to the fact that Gran Canaria and Tenerife South are only connected by one airline, Binter Canarias.

This places it in contrast to the two that serve the island's northern hub.

4) Menorca-Palma de Mallorca - 70 miles

Whereas Europe's second and third shortest routes connect the Canary Islands, this 70-mile hop links two of Spain's Balearic Islands, located in the Mediterranean. The route is plied by 4,777 scheduled flights a year. These services are operated by Air Europa and Iberia Regional, using ATR and Bombardier CRJ aircraft respectively.

With scheduled flight times of 35-40 minutes. Swiftair also operates cargo flights along the corridor.

Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Iberia Regional is one of two passenger operators between Menorca and Palma de Mallorca. Photo: Getty Images

5) Athens-Mykonos - 72 miles

This 72-mile hop links the Greek capital with the island of Mykonos, which lies halfway across the Aegean Sea towards Turkey.

The route is served by 2,830 scheduled flights a year, operated year-round by Olympic Air. These are supplemented in the summer by seasonal flights from Aegean Airlines, Sky Express, and Volotea. Scheduled flight times on this route vary between 35 and 45 minutes.


Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Aegean Airlines operates seasonal flights between Athens and Mykonos. Photo: Getty Images

6) Munich-Nuremberg - 73 miles

These two German cities, located in the federal state of Bavaria, are served by 2,497 scheduled flights a year. This seems a lot for a route that takes just over an hour on Deutsche Bahn's high-speed ICE trains.

However, flying between the two does allow for greater onward connectivity, particularly in Munich. The Bavarian capital is a long-haul hub for flag carrier Lufthansa, which operates all flights between the state's two largest airports.

Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Lufthansa has a monopoly on air travel between Munich and Nuremberg, but faces still competition from German high-speed rail. Photo: Getty Images

7) Ibiza-Palma - 76 miles

Much like in the case of Menorca, Ibiza is also connected to its Balearic neighbor by flights operated by Air Europa and Iberia Regional.

These take 40-45 minutes, and the corridor is served by 4,828 scheduled departures a year. This represents the largest figure out of all the routes in Europe's top 10 shortest. Cargo flights along this corridor are, once again, operated by Swiftair

8) Isle of Man-Liverpool - 77 miles

The Isle of Man is situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, approximately halfway between Liverpool and the Northern Irish capital of Belfast.

This 77-mile hop is served by 1,150 scheduled flights a year. Passengers on this corridor have a choice between low-cost-carrier easyJet and British regional airline Loganair. Flights are scheduled to take 35-40 minutes.


Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

Loganair, which operates flights between Liverpool and the Isle of Man, has taken on several routes left vacant after the collapse of Flybe. Photo: Getty Images

9) Stuttgart, Germany-Zurich, Switzerland - 78 miles

This 78-mile jaunt across the Swiss-German border represents the only other international flight to be one of Europe's ten shortest routes. It sees 2,599 scheduled flights a year, all of which are operated by SWISS.

In 2016, the corridor to Zurich was Stuttgart's eighth-busiest international route by passenger numbers. Unlike the other top 10 route featuring Germany, this corridor is not served by such a competitive high-speed rail alternative. Journeys between Stuttgart and Zurich on semi-fast IC services operated by Deutsche Bahn and Schweizerische Bundesbahnen take just under three hours.

Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

SWISS is the sole operator on the Stuttgart-Zurich route.

Photo: Getty Images

10) Aarhus-Copenhagen - 79 miles

Denmark's two largest cities are situated 79 miles apart, and are served by 1,056 scheduled flights a year. These are operated by Nordica subsidiary Regional Jet for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), using ATR 72 turboprop aircraft. They are scheduled to take 40 minutes.

This route is particularly interesting in that it is also served by seaplane. Nordic Seaplanes operates five daily flights each way between the two city centers, scheduled to take 45 minutes. It is unclear whether OAG's data includes these or not, but it certainly makes for an interesting alternative along the otherwise SAS-dominated corridor. Advertisement:

Very Short European Routes – 10 Under 80 Miles Long

SAS is not just Denmark's flag carrier airline - it also serves this purpose for Norway and Sweden.

Photo: Getty Images

Different data next year?

While fascinating nonetheless, it is crucial to consider that OAG's report is based on data for 2019. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic having brought commercial aviation almost to a standstill earlier in the year, the industry is set to be in a period of recovery for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is likely that the data in the next OAG report will look rather different to that which we have just analyzed.

Indeed, a number of the routes in question are currently not being served by scheduled flights, with airlines having reduced schedules to correspond to falling passenger demand. It remains to be seen how exactly the data will change in months and years to come, but here's to hoping that Europe can eventually be as well connected as it once was. What is the shortest flight you've ever been on?

Tell us your experiences in the comments below!

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