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Air travel

Fasten your seat belts for an eight-minute international flight

An Austrian airline has launched what it calls the world's shortest international flight, from Switzerland to Germany across scenic Lake Constance. Environmentalists are not amused.

This much is certain: there is no time for a leisurely glass of tomato juice on the flight from St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport in Switzerland to Friedrichshafen Airport in neighboring Germany.

The Austrian airline's 40 euro ($44) flight lasts all of eight minutes.

It covers 20 kilometers, and is meant to shorten a trip that would otherwise be roughly a one hour drive around the lake.

Short zip over the lake

The twice-daily service was launched this week, and it's not necessarily tailored to day-trippers only, but allows travelers to continue from Friedrichshafen to Cologne, or from the Swiss town of St Gallen to Vienna. 

Operator People's Viennaline prides itself on its website of running "the world's shortest international commercial flight."

This twitter user pinpoints the problem, however: how much sense does the flight make from an ecological point of view?

In fact, environmentalists both in Switzerland and Germany take a highly critical view of the mini-flight.

It's totally superfluous, Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch told DW, adding that take-off and landing in particular are high on emissions and fuel.

Travelers headed to Cologne - the flight's final destination - can take a fast train or drive to Zurich and fly from there, argues the head of the Baden-Württemberg state branch of the Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) environmental organization. 

The airline says the flight is carbon neutral, pointing out that driving around the lake for an hour to reach the same destination produces as much emissions as the mini flight.

Short and long hauls

The world's shortest domestic flight, operated by Loganair, is the route between Westray and Papa Westray on Scotland's Orkney Islands - and takes as little as 47 seconds.

By contrast, the world's longest non-stop international flight, operated by Emirates, is a more than 8,825-miles, an over 17-hour journey, from Auckland in New Zealand to Dubai.