With most international travel put to a halt, airlines around the world are getting creative with their services. Taking off in countries like Australia, Brunei, and Taiwan are “flights to nowhere,” where passengers can fly around a city with no destination. Singapore’s flag carrier was planning to do the same thing, but this idea was grounded after backlash from people concerned about its environmental impact.
Singapore Airlines first floated the idea of flights to nowhere in mid-September as a way to boost business. The service was going to fly passengers around the city-state and could have included staycation offers, shopping vouchers, and limousine service.
However, environmentalists immediately spoke out against the idea. In a statement, environmental activism group SG Climate Rally said the service “encourages carbon-intensive travel for no good reason.”
Four environmentalists also came together to gather alternative ideas from the public with a form titled “Save SIA (Singapore Airlines).” The initiative garnered more than a thousand responses within its first week.
The pandemic has greatly impacted the airline industry, with the International Air Transport Association predicting a loss of $84.3 billion in 2020. Most of Singapore Airlines’ planes have been grounded and the company has cut around 2,400 employees.
Instead of offering flights to nowhere, the airline will be launching other services that will let customers experience the perks of riding a plane. On Oct. 24 and 25, an A-380 plane parked at Singapore’s Changi Airport will turn into a restaurant, with a menu made up of international cuisines. Each meal will come with two free alcoholic drinks and a free flow of other beverages.
To reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, Singapore Airlines said it will implement measures like keeping the maximum size of groups at five, enforcing social distancing, and conducting temperature checks, the Straits Times reported.
Singapore Airlines also plans to hold guided tours of its training center on Nov. 21, 22, 28, and 29. Visitors can check out flight simulators and find out what it takes to be a pilot and cabin crew member.
Those at home can have Singapore Airlines’ food delivered with wine or champagne.
Similar initiatives have sprouted in other countries. These aim to give travel-starved customers the feeling of flying again.
Royal Brunei Airlines launched its Dine & Fly service in August that takes passengers on a scenic tour of Brunei. Similarly, Australian airline Qantas’ Great Southern Land scenic flight is set to depart on Oct. 10 and was sold out in 10 minutes. Tigerair Taiwan also recently took 120 passengers on a flight to nowhere that let passengers catch a view of South Korea’s Jeju Island.
Airplane cafes are also on the rise in Thailand. Customers can sip their coffee on board a retired commercial plane in the city of Pattaya, or visit the airplane-themed cafe in Bangkok that serves Thai Airways food.