The world’s shortest airline flight

Lasting just 90 seconds, a journey between two airports in the Orkney Islands is officially the briskest scheduled air connection on earth. Key Aero examines the details of this record-breaking Scottish service 

Taking-off from Westray Airport on a flight to Papa Westray probably feels like every other flight, but don’t bother to sit back and relax, because this service is only scheduled to last 90 seconds and will be over before you know it. 

The route is flown by Loganair, a Scottish regional airline that serves the country’s Highlands along with several inland destinations. The route between the Orkney Islands of Westray and Papa Westray in the north of Scotland is subsidised through a public service obligation from the local council. 

Papa Westray
The airline rosters the Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander on these services. Wikimedia Commons/Mark Longair

Beginning in 1967, the flights have been continuously served by the Scottish carrier ever since. In 2017, the contract was rewarded once again following a tendering process

The services between the two airports occur daily in both directions, except on Saturdays, when only flights from Westray to Papa Westray are available, and on Sunday when the opposite rotation is offered.  

The total distance covered is 1.7 miles (2.7km), which is about the same length as the runway at Edinburgh Airport.  

The links are always combined with services to and from Kirkwall Airport flying a triangle route between the three facilities. 

Loganair uses its two Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft for the connection. The type is a high-wing twin piston engine propeller driven example which is flown by a single pilot. There is seating for eight passengers. 

Papa Westray
The aircraft is flown by a single pilot and has capacity for eight passengers. Wikimedia Commons/Me677

While scheduled for 90 seconds, the actual flying time is usually closer to one minute. The record for the fastest flight is 47 seconds. 

In 2014, Orkney Islands Council began consultations to build a number of fixed links between seven of the islands. This could include a bridge between Westray and Papa Westray. It’s not clear how these discussions have progressed. 

Loganair is planning to introduce electric aircraft to the region by 2021 due to the short distance between the airports that makes such operations possible.