Sunday, February 16, 2014

The World's Shortest Scheduled Flight

The Britten Norman Islander is landing on Westray after two minutes in the air. Papa Westray is in the background.
Photo: Wallace Shackleton (©).

Forget in-flight movies, magazines, on-board internet, meals or drinks to help pass time in the air. There simply isn't time for any of the options above on the world's shortest scheduled flight. Two minutes in the air is as close as anyone will get to real island "hopping."

No, this IS the airport. Westray Airport (WRY).
Photo: Wallace Shackleton (©).
Do you still want to fly it? Just don't bring too many friends. The Loganair plane operating between the islands of Westray (WRY) and Papa Westray (PPW) in Scotland only takes 8 passengers. The distance between the two airports is 2525 meters, 35 meters shorter than the main runway of Edinburg airport.

How to travel? You will first have to travel to Kirkwall (KOI), the capital city of Orkney Islands, serviced only by Loganair (a subsiderary of FlyBe) from a dozen of other Scottish towns and cities.

Hey, where is the duty-free? A proper no-frills airport. An office,
somewhere to weigh the bags and somewhere to keep the
Land-Rover fire engine. Photo: Wallace Shackleton (©).
"The regular all year route is actually run by Loganair on behalf of Orkney Islands Council for the people who live on the islands, but spare seats are sold on the day of departure", Jackie Delaney told me. She is Station Manager of Kirkwall Airport.

There are however special sightseeing roundtrips targeting tourists every Tuesday and Thursday in June, July and August. From Kirkwall, the tiny aircraft will take you to Papa Westray for a short stop. Then comes the record breaking flight to Westray before the aircraft returns to Kirkwall. The full roundtrip takes 45 minutes.

"Every flight so far this year has been full," Delaney said.

Experiencing this world record won't cost you a fortune either, given that you have already made your way to Kirkwall. The roundtrip costs 39 pounds (61 USD). That includes a commemorative certificate and a miniature bottle of whisky from Highland Park, the world's northernmost distillery.

Getting off the aircraft to spend time in both Westray and Papa Westray comes highly recommended. The islands can offer ruins, lighthouses and the spectacular and wild scenery only found in these parts of the world. And Kirkwall should not be passed by too quickly either. It is a lovely little town of 8,500 people, with a surprisingly good restaurant scene. The Orkney Islands are also known for sheep, fish, wind, sea birds and whisky.

Flights must be booked via email or phone. Schedule and contact details here.

Youtube video of the flight.

I originally wrote this article in August 2012 for, a magazine that specialized in aviation news.

You mean there is no bus to the terminal? Wikimedia licensed photo