A global shutdown. Murder hornets. Unrelenting bushfires in Australia. The emergence of Kanye West on the American presidential bill. A possibility of World War Three. Set in the ever-unpredictable year of 2020 which has introduced an increasingly crazed “new normal”, the inception of a ‘flight to nowhere’ seemingly pales in comparison.
What is a ‘Flight to Nowhere’?
Flights to nowhere are a new concept that started during the Covid-19 pandemic. It means that passengers can take a flight that takes off and lands in the same place. However, it has sparked an unsurprisingly controversial debate with some raising concerns that it could prove to be disastrous for the environment.
Why are they happening?
Among thousands of businesses struggling to stay afloat due to the highly contagious nature of the pandemic, it goes without saying that airlines, too, have taken a huge blow. Since Covid-19 started, many people have not been able to travel, meaning that airlines are going bankrupt.
These flights to nowhere appear to be a solution that would greatly help airlines earn money and enable the beginning of a slow recovery, whilst still adhering to government-imposed rules about not being able to travel into other countries. Some airlines are also saying that people are missing the feeling of flying, which will mean that many people would want to try out this new concept. Well, where there’s demand…
What’s the environmental side to this?
Unfortunately, while they might help airlines, flights to nowhere will have a big impact on the environment. Planes contribute massively to air pollution, and emit a lot of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide), which leads to global warming. According to the New York Times, if you took a round-trip flight between New York and California, it would generate 20% of the greenhouse gases that your car emits in one year! Especially in an climate crisis like this, one must consider the true cost of our actions beyond the monetary value of a plane ticket.
Which airlines are doing this?
Taiwan’s EVA Air and Starlux Airlines are only two names among a growing collective to have bought into providing these flights to nowhere. Starlux Airlines did a ‘pretending to go abroad’ sightseeing flight, which flew over the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, before returning to its take-off point. EVA Air’s flight took off from the Taipei Taoyuan Airport and flew for 2 hours and 45 minutes, before- you guessed it (!)- landing right where it started. In August, ANA operated a 1 and a half hour flight, which flew over the city of Tokyo. Royal Brunei Airlines has also been operating flights to nowhere, which they call ‘Dine and Fly’. Passengers get to enjoy brunch on board, whilst looking at the view of the island of Borneo. The Australian airline Qantas has even been doing sightseeing flights to Antarctica, meaning that passengers can enjoy the view of the snowy landscape from the air!