Singapore Airlines drops 'flights to nowhere' after outcry

A couple walks past the Merlion statue in Singapore on September 28, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

Singapore, Singapore | Singapore Airlines said Tuesday it had scrapped plans for "flights to nowhere" aimed at boosting its coronavirus-hit finances after an outcry over the environmental impact.

With the aviation industry in deep crisis, several carriers -- including in Australia, Japan and Taiwan -- have been offering short flights that start and end at the same airport to raise cash.

They are designed for travel-starved people keen to fly at a time of virus-related restrictions, and have proved surprisingly popular.

But Singapore's flag carrier -- which has grounded nearly all its planes and cut thousands of jobs -- said it had ditched the idea following a review. 

The carrier has come up with alternative ideas to raise revenue, including offering customers tours of aircraft and offering them the chance to dine inside an Airbus A380, the world's biggest commercial airliner. 

Environmental activists had voiced opposition to Singapore Airlines launching "flights to nowhere", with group SG Climate Rally saying they would encourage "carbon-intensive travel for no good reason".

"We believe air travel has always caused environmental harm, and it is now an opportune moment for us to think seriously about transitions instead of yearning to return to a destructive status quo."

The airline said earlier this month it was cutting about 4,300 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, the latest carrier to make massive layoffs.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion this year.

The group also forecasts that global air traffic is unlikely to return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least 2024.

© Agence France-Presse


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