Singapore — As the airline industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been talk that Singapore Airlines is looking at a “flights to nowhere” initiative from Changi Airport starting in October.
According to straitstimes.com, which quoted an operator of Singapore Air Charter, these “flights to nowhere” could last 3 hours and be launched in partnerships with hotels offering staycations, limousine services and Jewel Changi Airport shopping vouchers to make them worthwhile for patrons.
Indeed, if SIA decides to go in this direction, it would not be the first carrier to do so, with Taiwan’s China Airlines and Eva Air launching a similar endeavor last month for those eager to travel to take to the skies once more.
Those who availed of the Eva Air offer took a two-hour-and-45-minute flight over Taiwan’s northeast cape, circling around Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, and then taking a scenic route through the south-east coast as it headed home.
With Taiwan’s successful Covid-19 response, these “flights to nowhere” do not seem to carry a significant risk of infection for passengers.
According to Executive Traveller, Japan’s All Nippon Airways has also sold tickets for similar flights.
SIA itself did a “flight to nowhere” for a charity event five years ago for more than 300 beneficiaries of the Community Chest.
A survey conducted by Singapore Air Charter showed that 75 per cent of the 308 respondents said they were willing to spend on such “flights to nowhere”, with many respondents saying they would pay S$288 for a seat in Economy Class, or S$588 for one in Business Class.
Such an endeavor could boost SIA’s bottom line. The carrier announced last week that it would be cutting about 4,300 positions and retrench 2,400 staff.
There was, however, mixed reaction online to such flights.
Some people suggested that a number of SIA planes could instead be converted into restaurants.
There was, however, concern about the environmental impact of such “flights to nowhere”.
One person was worried about the spread of Covid-19.
Another felt that the money would be better spent for charity.
Others pointed out that the initiative could help prevent retrenchments.
There was also support for the idea as “fresh” and “innovative”.
Some people, however, expressed horror over subjecting themselves to uncomfortable flight conditions.
Others had more suggestions for the flights.