* Qantas to offer seven-hour scenic flight over Australia
* EVA Air, ANA, Tigerair Taiwan have also offered such
* Asian international travel has plunged 97.5% - AAPA
SYDNEY, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd said
on Thursday it would operate a seven-hour scenic flight over
Australia next month, adding to a growing trend in Asia of
"flights to nowhere" that take off and land at the same airport.
Tough border restrictions to keep the coronavirus under
control have led to a 97.5% plunge in international travel in
the region, according to the Association of Asia Pacific
Many frequent flyers miss getting on planes and airlines
including Taiwan's EVA Airways Corp and Japan's ANA
Holdings Inc, desperate for revenue and to keep their
pilots' licences current, have offered special sightseeing
EVA used one of its iconic Hello Kitty livery planes for a
special father's day flight last month, while ANA used an Airbus
SE A380 that usually flies to Honolulu for a 90-minute
flight with a Hawaiian experience on board.
Tickets costing around $228 for a Tigerair Taiwan flight
from Taipei that will circle over South Korea's Jeju Island
reportedly sold out in four minutes. The price includes a
one-year voucher for round-trip tickets from Taiwan to Korea,
which can be used after COVID-19 travel bans are lifted.
Singapore Airlines Ltd is also considering scenic
flights, but no decision has been made, a spokesman said.
Qantas said it would use a Boeing Co 787 typically
used for long-haul international flights for the flight from
Sydney that will fly at low levels over Uluru, the Great Barrier
Reef and Sydney Harbour before landing back in Sydney. Tickets
will cost between A$787 and A$3,787 ($575 and $2,765) depending
on the seating class.
Just six months ago, it would have been unimaginable that
Australians would be unable to hop on a plane and travel out of
the country or even out of their own state due to border
controls and quarantine requirements, Chief Executive Alan Joyce
"While we may not be able to take you overseas right now, we
can certainly provide inspiration for future trips to some of
Australia's most beautiful destinations," he said in a
The flight will be carbon offset and operate on a
cost-neutral basis, Qantas said, amid some concerns being raised
on social media over the environmental impact of such flights.
The concept of scenic flights is not new. Antarctica Flights
has chartered Qantas jets for scenic flights over Antarctica for
26 years. An Air New Zealand Ltd sightseeing flight
over Antarctica in 1979 crashed into Mount Erebus, killing all
257 people on board.
($1 = 1.3695 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; additional reporting by
Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing
by Lincoln Feast.)