Singapore Airlines could offer 'flights to nowhere' as travel ban takes its toll

Tom Mulvihill
·2-min read
singapore airlines - Getty
singapore airlines - Getty

Singapore International Airlines is planning to launch a series of ‘no-destination flights’ in a bid to boost its ailing business.

If the scheme goes ahead, locals will be able to book round trips out of Singapore Changi Airport, taking off for a three-hour circuit of the island state before touching back down where they started.

The so-called ‘flights to nowhere’ could start as soon as October, although Singapore Airlines is remaining coy about the details.

“SIA is considering several initiatives that would allow us to continue engaging both our customers and members of the public,” said a spokesperson.

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

The airline is reportedly working with the Singapore Tourism Board to explore the possibility of state support, which could allow eager fliers to partially pay for the flights with Government-awarded tourism credits.

For SIA, there is an additional incentive to give its pilots much-needed flight time, which is essential for maintaining their Civil Aviation Authority certification.

Previously one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs, Singapore’s strict travel rules have seen air traffic plummet over the last six months, causing unprecedented hardship for the national flag carrier.

The airline is currently operating at less than 10 per cent of capacity, and just last week announced plans to axe 4,000 jobs – around 20 per cent of its workforce.

Meanwhile, the Singaporean population, which stands at just under six million, has been largely forbidden from travel since the pandemic was declared in March, and there is believed to be considerable appetite for SIA’s no-destination flights among the city’s grounded citizens.

Other airlines around the world have discovered a desperation to fly among customers frustrated by months of worldwide travel bans.

In July, dozens of ‘passengers’ turned up at Taiwan’s Songshan Airport for an experience day, checking in, clearing airport security and boarding a plane which didn’t take off, while in Bangkok, a pop-up restaurant at Thai Airways’ HQ has been serving more than 2,000 ‘in-flight meals’ each day to desperate diners with a yearning for plane food.