hidden europe 64

Connecting extremities: Shetland to Cornwall

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: The airport at Sumburgh in Shetland is the jumping-off point for Britain’s longest domestic flight (photo © Marcin Kadziolka / dreamstime.com).


Is the United Kingdom too compact ever to justify taking a domestic flight? With many travellers these days eager to make positive environmental choices, short flights of just an hour or two may soon become a thing of the past. But readers may be surprised to discover that Britain’s longest domestic flight extends to over five hours.

It makes sense that a number of European countries are clamping down on domestic flights. This is an important policy initiative to mitigate the negative environmental impact of civil aviation. But it has opened up an interesting debate about quite what qualifies as an acceptable domestic flight. Clearly it has a lot to do with what alternative travel solutions might be on offer.

Should we look sympathetically on a Norwegian who opts to fly from Honningsvåg to Bergen? The flight is indirect, requiring an en route change of plane in Tromsø. This is no short hop. The journey by plane takes at least six hours. So would you be inclined to say ‘take the boat’ — for there is indeed a direct daily boat. It leaves Honningsvåg early each morning. But it does require four nights on board. So here, perhaps, there is a case for sanctioning a continuing flight option.

In fairness those governments which have floated the idea of domestic flight bans have focused very much on short flights, where alternative rail transport links cities in just a few hours.

This is just an excerpt. The full text of this article is not yet available to members with online access to hidden europe. Of course you can read the full article in the print edition of hidden europe 64.
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