By Joey Gerardi
Deep Dive: The Shortest Routes of the US Commuter Carriers
With air travel picking back up around the globe, Singapore Airlines has resumed the longest flight in the world from the city-state of Singapore to New York City. Though unlike before the pandemic, the flight now operates into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport rather than across the Upper New York Bay in Newark, N.J
It’s enough to wonder what the opposite is — what the shortest routes are — and with international travel still at a minimum, what the shortest routes within the U.S. may be.
This article is the second part, the shortest routes for commuter airlines in the United States. Despite these airlines being small in size, their shortest routes are actually not as short as one might think
This Hawthorne, Calif.-based carrier operates one of the longer routes in this article. The route goes from Albuquerque, N.M. to Silver City, N.M. and comes in at 188-miles.
Silver City, N.M. is an Essential Air Services (EAS) city, the contract was recently renewed there solidifying their service to the community for years to come. The route is flown using one of the carriers many King Air 350’s.
This St. Louis-based airline has not had the best of luck recently, as they have lost four of their EAS contract in the past year. The carrier currently only operates three routes to four cities, Chicago, Burlington, Iowa; St. Louis; and Jonesboro, Ark. This carrier’s shortest route operates between Burlington, Iowa and St. Louis and comes in at 146-miles.
The airline operated a shorter route within Iowa before March. of 2021, Fort Dodge to Mason City. AirlineGeeks actually had the chance to fly on the route before it was discontinued, the article of which can be found HERE. The route is operated by the Cessna 208, although it is occasionally flown on one of the airline’s two nine-seat Beech-1900’s.
As with a lot of the shortest routes, this is another intra-state route, meaning it starts and ends within the borders of the state lines. This route is 101-miles going from the Blair-County Airport in Altoona, Penn. to Pittsburgh.
The route is flown at least twice daily using the airline’s Pilatus PC-12’s. The airline recently began services here taking over the contract from Southern Airways Express on Jan. 1, 2021.
Massachusetts-based Cape Air has two routes that tie for the shortest in their network, and both operate out of Martha’s Vineyard and sit at 26-miles having a scheduled flight time of 17-minutes. The flights operate to Hyannis and New Bedford, Mass. and flights are operated by either the Cessna 402 or the newly acquired Tecnam P2012.
Currently, Martha’s Vineyard to Hyannis sees three daily flights, while the flights to New Bedford only see one flight a week on Tuesdays. In mid-October 2021 the New Bedford flight increases to five-weekly flights, Monday through Friday, while around the same time the flights to Hyannis from Martha’s Vineyard are discontinued completely. This is due to the very seasonal demand shifts that the Cape Cod area sees yearly.
This airline’s shortest route doesn’t even touch one of its bases, but instead fly’s between two EAS cities, Beckley, W.V. to Parkersburg, W.V.. The route is the only that operates within the borders of West Virginia and spans a distance of 109-miles. The route is in connection with the carrier’s Charlotte base. The route operates from Charlotte to Beckley and continues onto Parkersburg, the route operates in the reverse direction back to Charlotte. The route is flown using the Embraer E135 or E145 aircraft.
Colorado-based Denver Air Connection’s shortest route operates to the popular winter sports destination of Telluride, Colo. The route is flown year-round using the Dornier 328-Jet from Denver Intl.
The route to Telluride comes in at 218-miles and is scheduled to take only 50-minutes. Due to the difficult terrain and unpredictable weather around the airport, the flight occasionally diverts to nearby Montrose or Durango, Colo., but the pilots flying this route are specially trained to land there so they always make the correct call.
Melbourne, Fla. based Elite Airways shortest route is seasonal, the route sits at 163-miles and operates between White Plains, N.Y. and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. The route operates once daily except on Wednesdays until mid-September 2021 when the route will discontinue altogether.
The route will be operated by either the CRJ-200 or CRJ-700. Once the route ends in Sept. 2021, the shortest route will become the 943-mile flight between Melbourne, Fla. and Newark Liberty.
The Florida-based carrier’s shortest route is actually international but is still short. The route’s length is 61-miles and spans from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini in the Bahamas with flight time scheduled at 45-minutes even though flight time is usually under 20-minutes.
The route is operated by ATR-42, ATR-72, or Saab 340 aircraft and operates on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
The shortest route of them all is only 9-miles long and is scheduled as a 15-minute flight. It operates between Molokai, Hawaii and Kalaupapa, Hawaii. The route is operated using 18-weekly flights between the two cities. The reason the route exists is due to the mountainous terrain separating the community of Kalaupapa from the rest of the island.
The flight actually used to be operated and flown by Hawaii-based Mokulele Airlines. But Southern Airways Express purchased the carrier and took over operations for the flight, but planes still remain in the Mokulele livery and will continue, as the carrier has strong ties in the state. All flights are operated by the 8-seat Cessna 208.