Airlines and COVID-19: Singapore Airlines reportedly planning 'flights to nowhere'

With airlines grounding hundreds of planes around the world due to the downturn in travel thanks to COVID-19, some carriers are looking for innovative ways to try and generate revenue.

We've seen Qantas selling off its excess business class pyjamas and amenity kits, Thai Airways opening a restaurant serving plane food, and various in-flight meal suppliers offering delivery of frozen meals.

Now, Singapore Airlines is reportedly getting in on the act with plans to launch sightseeing "flights to nowhere" that will take off and land at the same airport.

According to a report in Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, the flights would begin at Changi Airport by the end of October and may be bundled with staycation hotel packages, shopping vouchers and a limousine service.

Singapore Airlines would not confirm the reports, telling Traveller: "Singapore Airlines 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."

Like many other airlines, Singapore Airlines has been hit badly by the downturn in global travel due to COVID-19, recently announcing a plan to shed 2400 staff

The airline won't be the first to offer flights to nowhere. Taiwanese carriers Eva Air and StarLux Airlines, along with Japan's ANA, have also done short sightseeing tours.

Also in Taiwan in July, those desperately missing travel were invited to board a plane at Songshan Airport to get the full experience of flying somewhere apart from one thing - the plane never actually left the ground.

When reporting on sightseeing flights being adopted by airlines due to COVID-19, media organisations around the world have widely reported on the plan to use Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliners for sightseeing flights to Antarctica from various Australian cities this year.

Despite the global news coverage, the flights are nothing new, having been run by Antarctica Flights every summer for 26 years.

See also: Grounded Qantas Dreamliners to take off for Antarctica