The world’s tiniest airports and shortest flights

Travel inspiration

The world’s tiniest airports and shortest flights

By
3 June 2017

By | 3 June 2017

Ever wondered which airport is the smallest? Or where is the shortest flight? We’ve got you covered

People think flying is a big deal, and it is. Of course it is. You’re sitting in a metal tube with hundreds of other people, ripping through the sky at 500mph. It’s miraculous.

There are, though, some elements that still exist to remind people that commercial flying was not always the frustrating, exhausting trial it can sometimes be.

Below, we’ve come up with five cute and interesting places that prove that flying can still be an interesting joy. Oh, and one that won’t.

Shortest Commercial Flight

Westray in the Orkneys has a population of approximately 600 people – Shuttershock shortest Group Created with Sketch. Westray in the Orkneys has a population of approximately 600 people – Shuttershock

To fly from Westray (in the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland) to Papa Westray (in the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland) officially takes two minutes. Depending on weather conditions, however, the journey can be made in as little as 47 seconds.

The flights only operate during the summer, and advanced booking is essential because the plane only holds nine passengers. Each passenger is presented with a certificate after the flight to show they’ve done it, though. If you’d rather cross borders, try the shortest international flight. From St. Gallen in Switzerland to Friedrichshafen in Germany crosses Lake Constance and takes around 8 minutes.

Shortest Runway

The island of Saba has the shortest runway, and it looks scary – Shutterstock Group Created with Sketch. The island of Saba has the shortest runway, and it looks scary – Shutterstock

At only 1,300 feet long (shorter than some aircraft carriers) Saba airport in the Netherlands Antilles has the shortest commercial runway in the world. With cliffs to one side and a straight drop into the sea at the end of the runway, it’s also buffeted by strong winds from the ocean.

Despite this, it is actively used as it is an essential link between the islands and the mainland. Also, there has never been an accident here.

Smallest US Commercial Airport

Dawson Community Airport is perfect for reaching Montana's National Parks – Shutterstock shortest Group Created with Sketch. Dawson Community Airport is perfect for reaching Montana’s National Parks – Shutterstock

There are thousands of small, regional airports scattered across the vast expanse of the USA but, according to an FAA report, the prize for the smallest is Dawson Community Airport in the state of Montana.

Only 2,519 passengers passed through it last year, and only one airline (Cape Air) flies to a single destination (Billings, also in Montana). The airport actually serves as a convenient point from which to access the National Parks of Montana.

Commercial Runway with Least Amount of Tarmac

The Isle of Barra's runway is on a beach – Spumador / Shutterstock shortest Group Created with Sketch. The Isle of Barra’s runway is on a beach – Spumador / Shutterstock

It’s back to Scotland we go, and all the way to the wild and lonely Isle of Barra. Owned and operated by the Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, there are two daily return flights to Glasgow.

Nothing unusual there, you’d think … Except for the fact that it’s the only commercial airport in the world that uses a beach as a runway. Flights are scheduled to work around the tidal patterns, and if the windsock is flying, that means the airport is operational and serves as a warning to stay off the beach!

Shortest Distance from International Airport to the Centre of the City …

Salt Lake City has the closest airport to the city centre – Shutterstock shortest Group Created with Sketch. Salt Lake City has the closest airport to the city centre – Shutterstock

Okay, this is a tricky one to quantify. You could argue that airports such as LaGuardia in New York could stake a claim to this title, but LaGuardia is in Queens, and reaching it is a massive hassle at the best of times.

London City airport? Again, sure, it’s in the city, but where is the “centre” of London? So, for purposes of argument (and anyway, it’s my list!) I’ve decided that the airport should be outside the city.

It’s possibly slightly surprising that it’s a US airport that gains this distinction, but Salt Lake City International airport is less than four miles from what the local authorities define as the very centre of the city, and serves over 22 million passengers every year.

… And the furthest.

Paris-Vatry sells itself as the closest airport to Disneyland Paris but it's still more than 100km away – Aureliefrance / Shutterstock shortest Group Created with Sketch. Paris-Vatry sells itself as the closest airport to Disneyland Paris but it’s still more than 100km away – Aureliefrance / Shutterstock

Airports often rename themselves to give an impression of being closer to a major city than they are. I remember being gobsmacked when Oxford Airport rebranded itself as London Oxford a few years ago. Anyone with at least a passing knowledge of UK geography knows that it’s still a decent distance between Oxford and London.

There can be, however, only one true winner (loser?!), and that wonderful distinction goes to Paris-Vatry. 150km from Paris, it’s basically equidistant between Paris and Luxembourg. For commercial flights, it’s sometimes known as Paris-Vatry (Disney) in a bid to get passengers visiting Disneyland Paris … Which is still over 100km away.