On the day that Ryanair launches one of its shortest-ever routes, The Independent can reveal the quickest and the longest links operated by Europe’s biggest budget airlines.
The Irish airline has started flying from Paphos in Cyprus to Beirut, its first venture to Lebanon. The distance is just 183 miles, a hop of barely half an hour in the air.
Ryanair’s new link joins the top 10 of Europe-wide short no-frills links, just ahead of easyJet’s Geneva-Nice route. But it is by no means the shortest hop in the low-cost business.
That honour – although environmentalists may not see it like that – is held by easyJet’s twice-weekly link from Belfast International to the Isle of Man.
The distance is just 74 miles, representing a flight time of 20 minutes; the “block time” from gate to gate is twice as much.
Ryanair takes second place for brevity among the big three European budget airline with its 88-mile hop across the western Mediterranean from Malaga in Spain to Tetouan in Morocco.
Just one mile longer is an easyJet link from the Isle of Man to Liverpool.
The next six places are also taken by easyJet, with routes almost exclusively within the British Isles – only Southend-Amsterdam, in eighth place, ventures to Continental Europe.
Wizz Air, the third force in European budget aviation, does not make the top 10 of short routes. The Hungarian airline mainly operates in landlocked central and Eastern Europe, where profitable short hops across bodies of water are less readily available.
Its shortest route is from Gdansk in Poland to Malmo in Sweden at 218 miles, with Katowice – also in Poland – to the Ukrainian city of Lviv only three miles further.
When it comes to the longest routes, Wizz Air is much better represented.
But top place for ultra-long-haul-no-frills goes to Ryanair for its weekly link from Stockholm Skavsta to Gran Canaria, covering 2,629 miles.
Its route takes the Boeing 737-800 over Denmark, the northern tip of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, the northern Spanish mainland and Portugal. But the flight leaves at 7.15pm and touches down just after midnight, so the views will not be spectacular.
The flight is scheduled to take five hours, 50 minutes. Flying out on 24 November, the fare is 506 Swedish krona (£40) – for a journey longer than the transatlantic link from Glasgow to Halifax in Canada.
All the remaining routes in the top 10 are to the Canaries, Egypt or Dubai.
Wizz Air’s services to Dubai’s new World Central airport from Katowice in Poland and Budapest are second and seventh respectively.
In third place, Wizz Air’s trans-European express from Bucharest to Tenerife South traverses Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy and Morocco on its way to the sunshine.
Hurghada in Egypt is the destination for all four easyJet entries in the top 10. The Red Sea resort is served from Manchester, Bristol, Stansted and Gatwick.
When Sharm el Sheikh is back in the easyJet schedules, the link from Manchester will become the fifth longest in Europe.
The shortest route in the world is on the Scottish airline, Loganair, from Papa Westray to Westray in Orkney. The one-mile flight is scheduled to take two minutes.
The world’s longest nonstop route is on Singapore Airlines from its hub to New York. The 9,529-mile flight takes 18 hours on a good day.
Top 10 shortest routes from Europe’s top three budget airlines (distances in statute miles)
1. easyJet: Belfast International-Isle of Man (74)
2. Ryanair: Malaga-Tetouan (88)
3. easyJet: Liverpool-Isle of Man (89)
4. easyJet: Belfast International-Glasgow (109)
5. easyJet: Belfast International-Edinburgh (143)
6. easyJet: Gatwick-Jersey (160)
7. easyJet: Belfast International-Liverpool (164)
8. easyJet: Southend-Amsterdam (180)
9. easyJet: Belfast International-Newcastle (181)
10 = easyJet: Belfast International-Manchester (183)
10 = Ryanair: Paphos-Beirut (183)
Top 10 longest routes from Europe’s top three budget airlines
1. Ryanair: Stockholm-Gran Canaria (2,629)
2. Wizz Air: Katowice-Dubai World Central (2,607)
3. Wizz Air: Bucharest-Tenerife South (2,602)
4. easyJet: Manchester-Hurghada (2,575)
5. Ryanair: Warsaw-Tenerife South (2,542)
6. easyJet: Bristol-Hurghada (2,525)
7. Wizz Air: Budapest-Dubai World Central (2,503)
8. Ryanair: Oslo-Gran Canaria (2,479)
9. easyJet: Stansted-Hurghada (2,433)
10. easyJet: Gatwick-Hurghada (2,422)