Asia Minute: Singapore Airlines’ Novel Push for New Revenue

Sep 30, 2020

Airlines here in Hawaii and around the world are continuing to struggle. The decline in travel because of the pandemic has led some airlines to cut jobs by the thousands. Others are looking for different ways to use their airplanes — including a new idea this week from Southeast Asia.

You may have heard about “flights to nowhere.” From Taiwan to Australia, these have been popular — passengers board a plane that flies over scenic territory and returns to the location where it started.

Frequent fliers who miss the experience can get up in the air, while airlines can generate a small amount of revenue and maintain contact with some of their customer base.

But environmental activists call it unnecessary pollution.

Singapore Airlines considered flights to nowhere, but decided against them — in part because of that environmental pushback. Instead, the airline is taking a different approach: offering lunch on an Airbus A-380 that stays at the gate, and an optional tour of Singapore Airlines’ training facilities.

Pay a little extra and you can try a flight simulator.

And while the idea of feasting on airline food may not carry universal appeal, the airline is offering home delivery of choices from its first class and business class menus. No word on pricing, but none of these steps will bring a lot of income.

Singapore Airlines is already cutting roughly 20% of its work force — part of a much broader story.

The International Air Transport Association estimates airlines in the Asia Pacific will lose nearly 30-billion dollars this year — more than a third of the losses expected for the entire airline industry around the world.