The coronavirus pandemic has destroyed international passenger travel in the southern hemisphere so Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, decided to launch a “Flight to Nowhere”.
The seven-hour scenic flight sold out in 10 minutes on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The Qantas flight, in a Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ typically used for long-haul international journeys, will leave Sydney and fly at low levels over Uluru in the Northern Territory, the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Byron Bay on the NSW east coast and Sydney Harbour before landing back in Sydney.
A meal prepared by Neil Perry, renowned Australian chef, restaurateur and author, will be served during the flight. All passengers will be given breakfast in the Qantas Lounge and before the flight departs there will be an auction of memorabilia from Qantas’ recently retired fleet of Boeing 747s.
Tickets cost between A$787 and A$3,787 depending on the seating class and the 134 available seats were snapped up, a Qantas spokeswoman said. Six business class seats were sold for A$3,787 each, 24 premium economy seats were sold at A$1,787 each and 104 economy seats were sold at A$787.
“It’s probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history,” she said.
“People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open.”
The borders between Australia’s states and territories are more-or-less closed to stop the transmission of COVID-19. Australians are advised not to fly internationally.
“So many of our frequent flyers are used to being on a plane every other week and have been telling us they miss the experience of flying as much as the destinations themselves,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
“Just six months ago, we would have never imagined not being able to jump on a plane and visit family interstate or take a holiday internationally.
“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. We could be on the cusp of a domestic tourism boom given international borders are likely to be restricted for some time.”
Last month, Japan’s ANA sold tickets for a charter flight to nowhere, while two Taiwan carriers launched similar campaigns – Starlux Airlines introduced a “pretending to go abroad” journey and EVA Air filled all 309 seats on a special Father’s Day flight.