While doing research for another story last night I started looking at the 787 schedules and all the routes published. I was initially focused on longer routes (I’m looking at growth in aviation to secondary markets facilitated by the Dreamliner) but that meant showing all the data and sorting it. Curiosity got the better of me and so I scrolled from the longest flight (LAX-MEL on UA) to the other end of the list. At which point I was pretty sure I found an error in the data. Surely there was no scheduled commercial flight on a 787 which is only 16 miles long, is there?!?
Yes. Yes, there is.
Ethiopian Airlines uses its 787s on some intra-Africa flights, including service to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and to Brazzaville, Congo. The two airports are only 16 miles apart and, on some days, the 787 makes the hop between the two airports. I was doubtful but, sure enough, it shows up on flight tracking sites like FlightRadar24.com.
I saw it on the timetable and tried to find seats for the flight but was unable to do so. It seems that there are no 5th Freedom rights available for selling seats only on the short hop. But the flight definitely does operate; it can be purchased as part of a trip to/from Addis Ababa.
Still plenty longer than the world’s shortest commercial flight, between Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkeny Islands:
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Yes that has been there for a long time. It’ is very difficult to cross the Congo river boarder to get from Brazzaville to Kinshasa – the trip takes hours mostly due to very strict and chaotic boarder checks. Congolese nationals need a visa to enter DR Congo and it’s rather difficult to get. Although Kinshasa is the second largest francophone city in the world, if an airline only flies into Kinshasa they’d be forgoing the entire Congo (republic) market. This is the same reason why Air France has a flight to FIH and another flight to BZV from Paris though they are only 16 miles apart. Air Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, South African, Royal Air Maroc, and TAAG Angola all have similar arrangements.
I’m familiar with that type of route and the need to put tag flights on places for such connectivity. There are a bunch of them in Africa and the Middle East, to say nothing of all the 5th freedom routes in Asia. But this one caught me off guard with how short it is. Some good Friday flying fun. 🙂
haha yes. BA (Comair) sometimes operates LVI-VFA, which is 19 mi. Not on a 787 though lol.
Definitely interesting flying those short hops…had a flight to FLL back in the late ‘90s that made a stop at MIA first. The plane emptied and 3 of us were left on board.
Oh, memories of short flights… Unfortunately none are still scheduled, but:
BOS-BDL on DL L10 in the late 80s-mid 90s (was a tag-on from BDA-BOS)
BOS-PWM on DL 757 in the late 80s-mid 90s
BOS-YUL on DL 763 in the late 80s-mid 90s (although that one’s a bit longer)
The MIA-FLL one I believe was a DL 72S
Another route that baffled me was ATL-JAX – admittedly a bit longer but still short – which, up til 2009/10 had about 15 flights each way per day, 90% on widebody equipment! I was lucky enough to fly on that route a couple of times on a 767-200 and both times it was near full even at off-peak times.
Sadly these crazy routes are few and far between now, as management is now penny pinching (probably a good thing, though). The down side to that is, airline route networks are boring now! Pretty much a 737 or A320-series to everywhere domestic US.
Wow! What a great flight for the 787. Is there any chance this will open up as a 5th freedom flight?
Highly unlikely. Sorry.
Probably easier as a visitor to fly it through anyways. Neither of those are easy countries to visit.
If this don’t beat all. I would’ve put my money on United’s 787 BOG-CTA, which I booked yesterday two days after this story appeared.
One of the world’s shortest scheduled flight performs The Bulgarian National Carrier “Bulgaria Air” – between Varna (VAR) and Bourgas (BOJ) airports, Bulgaria, Europe – the flight is domestic and continues around 12 minutes – the distance is only 75 km
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