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It’s become quite a thing during the last few months for airlines to organize aviation themed events or novelty flights that are just regular circle routes with a common aircraft – Singapore Airlines might be the next to join the game!

With borders closed (in most cases) travel by air is merely a distant memory for many people and especially in a small country such as Singapore where you don’t have any domestic flights to go on.

What has become popular with airlines is to offer something akin to scenic flights just with the difference that there isn’t much to see and the focus is simply on the flying experience and to “get out again” and ANA has successfully operated such flights with their Flying Honu A380 as well as EVA Air’s Hello Kitty Jet.

The Straits Times now reported that Singapore Airlines is also in the process of preparing such flights by October.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is looking to launch no-destination flights that will depart from and land in Changi Airport next month, in a bid to give its ailing business a lift.

Sources told The Straits Times that the national carrier is working towards launching this option for domestic passengers – dubbed “flights to nowhere” – by end-October.

They said SIA also plans to explore a partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board to allow interested passengers to partially pay for such flights with tourism credits that will be given out by the Government.

Each flight is expected to take about three hours.

Mr Stefan Wood, director at aircraft charter firm Singapore Air Charter, told ST that he had approached SIA about the possibility of setting up a joint venture to provide such flights to nowhere using the Airbus A-350 planes from SIA.

But he said the talks stalled recently, with SIA indicating interest in going ahead with such plans on its own. …

“We will make an announcement at the appropriate time if we go ahead with these plans.”

Several airlines worldwide, including EVA Air in Taiwan, have piloted flights to nowhere in an attempt to cope with the drastic fall in demand for air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SIA has operated a flight to nowhere before, for a charity initiative in 2015 when it ferried more than 300 beneficiaries of the Community Chest, such as children with special needs and the disadvantaged elderly.

While SIA did not provide any details on its proposed flights to nowhere, Mr Wood said he had envisioned a bundle package for such no-destination flights.

This would have included partnerships with hotels to offer staycations, shopping vouchers at Jewel Changi Airport and a limousine service to ferry customers around.

He is confident that there will be demand for such flights in Singapore should they eventually be launched.

A survey of 308 people that his firm conducted found 75 per cent were willing to pay for flights to nowhere.

The most popular price that respondents were willing to pay for an economy class seat was $288, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they were willing to do so. Meanwhile, 40 per cent said they were willing to pay $588 for a business class seat.

This is a great initiative by Singapore Airlines to get some of their equipment going again, provide their pilots with flight hours and at the same time siphon off some of the subsidy dollars provided by the government.

I find the data points of this especially fascinating. The pricing sweet spot that was surveyed was way about what I’d have expected people being willing to pay for such a ride:

  • Economy Class: SG$ 288 = US$ 212
  • Business Class: SG$ 588 = US$ 434

Considering there isn’t really any purpose behind these flights other then getting around for a couple hours these prices seem to be high. That’s what people usually pay to go from Singapore to Hong Kong, Taiwan or Bali.

If this was operated by the A380 and they would have a full Suites Services in their First Class I could see myself being willing to pay US$400-500 for this if it includes the full catering (including their usual Dom Perignon and Krug Champagne) as well as the Private Room lounge experience.

Two weeks ago I visited the Thai Airways aviation cafe in Bangkok where the airline staff created a novelty dining environment with plenty or aircraft memorabilia.

This has since been reported in many media outlets and provoked a lot of different reactions from being being stoked by the idea to others calling it absolutely stupid. There is no “right” opinion about such a recreational thing. Some like aviation, others go to art exhibitions and then you have those who go to the mall every day of the week.

For the airline this also has a positive purpose as they get to keep their equipment and pilots on their toes. There are many flights that go empty frequently because pilots have to upkeep their hours so this isn’t just a totally wasteful way of burning fuel and resources.

Conclusion

When I took my first flight again back in late July I really felt a big relief of life becoming normal again. As someone who usually flies somewhere twice a month it was actually difficult for me to not being on a plane for five months total. I could see such a novelty flight having some sort of therapeutic aspect to it as well.

I like the novelty part of it as well. Many of us simply miss traveling and even roaming around at empty airports or museums just to have a look around and maybe enjoy a meal there is helping us to keep some sanity. I don’t expect everyone to understand this sentiment but as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks.

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