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We already have questions about the cheapest, shortest, most layovers and longest flights in the world. Now I am interested to know which scheduled flight has the least frequency.

The constraints are:

  • The flight has to be on a fixed schedule - so it's not a charter flight or a private flight
  • It has to have a flight number
  • Both airports must have an IATA code or an ICAO code
  • A regular person can buy a ticket - so it's not a military or government flight
  • The question is about flights, not planes - so it doesn't matter which plane is used on each leg

I know plenty of flights that are scheduled once per week, but perhaps there's something even less frequent?

  • 1
    Do you also mean to exclude one time flights such as bookable delivery flights or extra capacity such as sporting events? – Johns-305 Jun 4 '17 at 12:38
  • 1
    @Johns-305 yes, since those are not on a fixed schedule – JonathanReez Jun 4 '17 at 12:41
  • 1
    Planefinder tracks Santa's annual sleigh flight, though I don't believe it has a flight number. – DJClayworth Jul 10 '17 at 0:41
  • I'm not sure this really qualifies, but some of the polar sightseeing flights like Polarflug come to mind. They usually have flight numbers and are usually flights-to-nowhere from an airport with an IATA code, with a schedule of upcoming flights (at least until airberlin's financial distress) sold to the public, but they are really just publicly available charter flights with an ad-hoc schedule. – Zach Lipton Jul 10 '17 at 3:29
8
+50

My understanding is that technically, you can't have a scheduled flight less than once a week, because airline schedules are published in a weekly format:

MH172 KUL0850 – 1200DEL 738 245
MH190 KUL1850 – 2150DEL 738 134

The last number in each row is the days of the week when the flight operates, from 1 = Monday to 7 = Sunday.

The only way to schedule a flight less than once a week would be to start and stop it every week when it flies, which is (again, technically) indistinguishable from a seasonal or chartered flight.

  • That's what I've suspected! It would be interesting to know what came first - the schedule format or the once per week standard. – JonathanReez Jul 10 '17 at 6:28
  • I don't think it is a standard, I believe landing slots are lost if the airline doesn't utilize them - so they either utilize the slots, or lease them out to other airlines. – Burhan Khalid Jul 10 '17 at 6:47
  • This is not correct. Flights can be scheduled down to a specific date, and this is done frequently, especially for special events. For example, flight UA1969 from SFO to ORD runs exactly ONCE in the next 6 months (and probably only once ever) - on November 26, 2017. – Doc Aug 12 '17 at 20:33
  • @Doc Of course it's possible, but my understanding is that the way that's scheduled in GDS is to have a flight operating "every Sunday" that begins 26NOV and ends 26NOV. – jpatokal Aug 12 '17 at 21:02
  • @jpatokal Correct. And in the day of paper schedules that might have been a problem, but in the days of computer schedules it's used all the time. – Doc Aug 13 '17 at 4:38
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I don't know if it's the least frequent, but LATAM offers flights once a month between Santiago and Mount Pleasant (on the Falklands) via Punta Arenas and Rio Gallegos. The outbound flight (to the Falklands) is flight LA897 operating on the second Saturday of the month, and the return flight is flight LA896 operating on the third Saturday of the month.

On the other Saturdays, LA895 (outbound) and LA894 (return) operate the same route, except without the stop in Rio Gallegos. So the RGL-MPN leg in each direction is only run once a month.

The reason is that flights are allowed under an agreement between the British and Argentine governments in 1999. The British did not want any direct flights from the Falklands to Argentina, only to Chile; the Chileans and Argentines did not want a flight without a stop in Argentina. This was the compromise, see http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/15/world/britain-and-argentina-to-allow-commercial-falkland-flights.html.

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