Asian airlines come out with ‘flights to nowhere’ to beat pandemic blues
SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA) – In the wake of the pandemic racing across continents, businesses and lifestyles are undergoing a sea change. The hard-hit aviation sector is no different. Reeling from losses, airlines are exploring ways to tide over the crisis. Airlines have started a trend by offering ‘flights to nowhere’ that take off and land at the same airport.
Qantas Airways Ltd of Australia said tickets for a seven-hour flight over the Outback and Great Barrier Reef sold out in 10 minutes.
According to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, strict frontier curbs to keep the pandemic under control have triggered a 97.5% plunge in international travel.
Many jet setters miss the ambience of an airplane and this has prompted Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp and Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc, which are seeking ways to cushion the effect of the crisis, to offer special sightseeing flights.
The Boeing 787 of Qantas, which is usually deployed for long-haul international sojourns, will fly at low altitude over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour before landing back in Sydney.
The tickets cost between A$787 and A$3,787 (445.08 pounds and 2,140.26 pounds) depending on the seating class and there are 134 available seats.
“It’s probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history,” said Qantas. “People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open.”
Taiwan’s EVA used one of its legendary Hello Kitty livery aircraft for a special father’s day flight last month. ANA used an Airbus SE A380 that normally flies to Honolulu for a 90-minute flight with a Hawaiian theme on board.
For a Tigerair Taiwan flight from Taipei that encircles Jeju Island of South Korea, tickets costing 6,888 Taiwan dollars (182.68 pounds) were sold out within minutes. The price includes a one-year voucher for round-trip tickets from Taiwan to Korea, which can be redeemed once the travel curbs are lifted.
All countries offering such flights have relatively low number of coronavirus cases.
According to the Straits Times newspaper, Singapore Airlines Ltd is also mulling scenic flights. However, it has invited criticism from environmentalists. “First, it encourages carbon-intensive travel for no good reason and second, it is merely a stop-gap measure that distracts from the policy and value shifts necessary to mitigate the climate crisis,” said awareness group SG Climate Rally.