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Asia Minute: Regional Flights to Nowhere


Airlines are making plans to increase their flights to Hawaii as pre-travel COVID testing begins next month. Many people are still hesitant to get on an airplane, but in parts of the Asia Pacific, a number of carriers are offering flights that don’t go anywhere.

They call them “flights to nowhere.” The idea is that you get on a plane, it takes off and flies around and returns to where it started.

Two airlines in Taiwan offered these last month, and they proved to be popular with passengers.

There’s a local angle here. SimpleFlying.com reports that All Nippon Airways flew a 90-minute “scenic flight” on one of its “Flying Honu” aircraft — complete with a painted sea turtle on the side. Instead of flying on its usual route to Honolulu, the plane departed and arrived in Tokyo.

Last week, Qantas offered a seven-hour flight from Sydney that will show off views from cityscapes to the Great Barrier Reef. Radio New Zealand reports tickets sold out in less than ten minutes.

Singapore Airlines is considering a similar flight plan. But critics say this is a waste of airline fuel that’s damaging to the environment.

The South China Morning Post reports an environmental group called “Neighborhood Greenwatch” crowdsourced suggestions for alternate uses of the planes that would generate revenue without burning hydrocarbons.

Ideas ranged from screening movies on the ground to offering fine dining experiences without taking off.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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