Singapore Airlines may offer ‘domestic flights’ due to Covid-19

Singapore Airlines is trying to find additional means of revenue during the pandemic . — Reuters pic
Singapore Airlines is trying to find additional means of revenue during the pandemic . — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a significant impact to airline industries. Although domestic flights have already resumed in several ASEAN countries including Malaysia, this isn’t possible for an island city-state such as Singapore. Its flag carrier Singapore Airlines only operate international flights but it appears that they are coming out with a new option for those itching to fly again.

As reported by Straits Times, Singapore Airlines is planning to launch a 3 hour no-destination flight which will depart and land in Changi Airport in October. This is seen as an initiative to increase revenue as they cope with the fall in demand for air travel.

It is also reported that SIA has plans to explore a partnership with Singapore Tourism Board to allow Singaporeans to utilise their tourism credits for the flights. The Singaporean government had recently distributed a total of SGD 320 million (about RM972 million) to boost domestic spending as there’s a lack of foreign visitor arrivals.

According to Singapore Air Charter director Stefan Wood, they had approached SIA about a possible joint venture to provide flights to nowhere using an Airbus A350. However, talks had stalled with SIA indicating that they are going to pursue the plans on its own.

According to a survey conducted with 308 people, 75 per cent are willing to fork out money to pay for flights to nowhere. The survey indicated that 45 per cent are willing to pay SGD 288 (about RM874) for an economy seat while 40 per cent would pay SGD 588 (about RM1,785) for a business class option. 60 per cent of respondents have said that they want the flight to last for 2 hours.

Mr. Wood added that as travel opens, the novelty will wear off. He suggested bundling the flights with staycation, limo transfers and airport shopping experiences.

Other airlines have also operated similar joyrides during the pandemic. This include ANA in Japan with a 90-minute flight on an A380 while Taiwan’s EVA Air had flown its Hello Kitty themed A330 for a 2 hour 45 minute flight before returning back to its originating airport. Before that, the Taiwanese airline had also offered a fake flight experience where the planes never leave the ground.

It is also worth pointing out that Singapore Airlines had operated a flight to nowhere before. Back in 2015, they had a charity flight on an Airbus A380 with more than 300 beneficiaries of the Community Chest which included children with special needs, adults with disability and disadvantaged elderly.

Malaysia Airlines had also organised a joyride in 2012 to celebrate the arrival of its new Airbus A380. A total of 454 passengers including Tun Dr Mahathir and Big Flight contest winners have joined the flight which took about 3 hour and 30 minutes. It was reported that the flight departed KLIA at 12.34pm and it returned back to the same airport at 4.02pm. — SoyaCincau

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