Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Ahead of the pandemic, airlines were announcing flights to “nowhere”, where passengers landed where they took off. But as the Covid-19 carried aircraft on its runways around the world, companies turned to innovative ideas, which led to the birth of a new trend in the world of aviation.
Tickets for a 7-hour Qantas Airways flight to see views of Australia from the sky, in just 10 minutes, sold out in September 2020.
Later that fall, passengers in Taiwan boarded an EVA Air flight to Nowhere for a quick date.
And in May 2021, I booked tickets for the Qanta flight, which aims to provide a magnificent view of the giant moon, in just two and a half minutes.
We are currently in the third year of the pandemic. As travel restrictions ease amid uncertainty over the omicron mutant, some airlines have told CNN they are leaving flights to “nowhere” and focusing on restoring their usual timetables, though there are exceptions.
Flights to “nowhere” have generally operated in countries that have imposed severe travel restrictions during the pandemic.
The Australian border was completely closed when Qantas flight took off, in the fall of 2020. Travel bans remained in place when Qantas arranged “anonymous” flights to nowhere, its 2021 supermoon.
A Qanta spokesman told CNN that the popularity of the airline bids was “very encouraging”.
The spokesman explained that the flights provided “unique opportunities for our passengers who wanted the flight experience and travel thrills, as well as made it possible for our staff to work, fly our planes and promote Australian tourism”.
Australians can now travel more easily, while borders remain closed to other newcomers. It is expected to be fully reopened this year. A Qanta spokesman suggested that as a result, the airline was focused on resuming more regular operations, but did not rule out a return to flight anywhere.
Not many airlines in the world catch this type of flight, with some, like Qatar Airways, managing to maintain regular schedules.
A Qatar Airways spokesman said: “Our focus has remained on bringing people home and addressing the challenges posed by the global crisis.”
No flights took off “nowhere” in the United States as airlines continued to operate domestic flights during the pandemic.
While there have been very strict travel rules in many EU countries, European airlines have also given up the trend.
The exception was the budget company Smartwings, which was said to have taken travelers on a short tourist trip it organized around Budapest in October 2020.
Other airlines have taken advantage of their ground-based aircraft in other ways.
While Singapore Airlines has been rumored to be launching cruise flights in the fall of 2020, a spokesman told CNN it has chosen to prioritize “a range of initiatives aboard aircraft parked at the gates”, such as the “A380 Restaurant”. in Changi. Airports.
The Japanese airline All Nippon Airways, the only airline, confirmed its plans to continue tourist flights until 2022 and has also approved other aviation-oriented initiatives, such as selling aircraft food online, converting aircraft to restaurants and there are plans to host weddings on board. A380 from the ground.
the traveler’s point of view
Kei Huang, a travel enthusiast, was aboard Qanta’s first flight to Nowhere in the fall of 2020.
“The low-altitude flight over these landmarks was truly unique,” Huang told CNN at the time.
Although he fondly remembered the trip, he finally said that since then, he has taken full advantage of the relaxed travel restrictions at the Australian border.
“Since Australian citizens can travel internationally and return without being quarantined, I think the general public interest in short trips has declined,” Huang said.
The Head of the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure at Shannon University of Technology in Ireland, Dr. Tony Johnston, said he did not expect these trips to continue.
“It is unlikely to develop as a service during 2022,” Johnston told CNN. He then added, “As a product, it is not particularly cheap and does not actually give you access to a site and I do not expect it to stimulate consumer interest in becoming commercially viable, especially in the context of fuel price. “increases, reduction fees”.
Johnston also suggested that countries would prioritize tourism during 2022 and be reluctant to close borders.
The issue of sustainability
When airlines initially started selling tickets for flights to Nowhere, questions about their viability immediately arose.
A Friends of the Earth spokesman told CNN in October 2020, after Qantas’s first voyage, “This flight may not go anywhere, but the planet’s destructive emissions must go to … Somewhere. And that place is atmosphere exactly where you “contributing to the decline of the climate.”
Qantas said 100% of the emissions from its flights were offset, while EVA Air urged passengers to offset the emissions through its carbon calculator.
An EVA spokesman added that the airline had deliberately used the fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner on many of its flights.
An All Nippon spokesman told CNN that the company had pledged to “reduce carbon emissions from aircraft operations to net zero by 2050”.
Tourism expert Johnston suggested that many travelers are becoming more aware of the impact of their flight habits and this increased awareness could be a nail in the coffin of “nowhere” flights.
Dr Mark Stettler, Senior Lecturer in Transport and Environment at Imperial College London, said carbon offsets would not solve the emissions problem.