Singapore Airlines is considering special ‘flights to nowhere’ according to sources who claim to be familiar with the matter that would give domestic passengers the chance to experience the joy of flight amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar initiatives have already been launched by several other airlines in a bid to rake in desperately needed revenue while giving fare-paying passengers the chance to at least pretend to go on holiday.
No final decision has yet been made on the special flights but if it does go ahead, the airline is said to be exploring a late October launch. Available only to domestic passengers, the flights would depart from Singapore Changi airport for an approximately three-hour flight before landing right back where it started.
SIA’s business has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and senior executives fear recovery might take three to four years to materialise. In the first quarter of the year, passenger traffic across the SIA group plummeted by 99.5 per cent and has only since recovered to 8 per cent of pre-COVID levels. By the end of March 2021, the airline expects to be operating at just 50 per cent of planned capacity.
The airline hasn’t yet fully embraced the idea of flights to nowhere, however, saying in a statement: “SIA is considering several initiatives that would allow us to continue engaging both our customers and members of the public.”
“We will make an announcement at the appropriate time if we go ahead with these plans,” the statement, first reported by the Straits Times, explained.
Other airlines haven’t been quite so reserved about these so-called flights to nowhere. Taiwanese airline Eva Air has been operating Hello Kitty themed flights to nowhere since August, with passengers again able to take to the air for a three-hour round trip.
Eva Air explained the decision saying cries from eager tourists to go abroad were growing louder. This experience may just sate that appetite. Taiwan’s Songshan airport has also been offering a similar experience to tour through the airport and board a plane, although the flight doesn’t ever leave the ground.
In a recent survey by a Singapore-based travel firm, 75 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to pay for a flight to nowhere, which would include the chance to sample in-flight meals and could be combined with a wider staycation package including a hotel stay.
Clearly, a flight to nowhere is an expensive novelty but with strict travel restrictions lingering after more than six months and little chance of those restrictions being lifted anytime soon, it’s a novelty that many people want to enjoy.
Sadly, it might not be enough to save the jobs of many Singapore Airlines employees. On Thursday, SIA announced plans to shrink its workforce by 4,300 jobs as a direct result of the Corona crisis. After accounting for voluntary measures, some 2,400 employees could be made compulsorily redundant.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.