18 Sep 2020

Qantas flight to nowhere sells out in 10 minutes

1:33 pm on 18 September 2020

Would you pay $A800 (NZ864) or more for a flight to nowhere? More than 130 people in Australia have.

Australia's Qantas reported a record $A2.8 billion loss for the year ended June 2014.

Interest in the seven-hour flight shows people miss the experience of flying, a Qantas spokesperson says. Photo: AFP

And, Qantas believes it's one of the fastest-selling flights they've ever put on.

The airline, which has bled almost $2 billion since the pandemic began, will run a "Great Southern Land" joy flight which will depart and arrive in Sydney.

Passengers have been promised great views of Australian icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, which are off limits to many people due to border closures.

"From the sky, there are no border restrictions," the advertisement says.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) at sunrise, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific

Tourist attractions such as Uluru will be on the flight schedule. Photo: AFP

There's no need for baggage on the seven-hour flight with no stopovers, but passengers have been told they'll also see Kata Tjuta, Byron Bay, Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour.

Qantas says the plane will fly as low as 1300 metres at some parts of the flight to get passengers as close as possible to these landmarks.

Economy tickets were priced at $787, premium economy at $1787 and business class was $3787 but still the flight sold out in under 10 minutes yesterday.

"We knew this flight would be popular, but we didn't expect it to sell out in 10 minutes," a Qantas spokesperson said.

"It's probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history. People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying."

Captain David Summergreene will pilot the flight on 10 October and said he was "super stoked" to be flying again after months out of the cockpit.

"This is taking me back to the days when I learnt to fly and we were down in light aircraft very low flying around things," he said.

"To be able to take an aircraft like this and do the same thing ... will be absolutely fantastic."

Airlines look for creative stimulus

Over the last month Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been vocal in his opposition to blanket state border closures and accused leaders of being driven by politics and not health advice.

Joyce has made pointed comments directed at the Premiers of Tasmania and Queensland who have said their state's borders were unlikely to open until December or after Christmas.

Qantas says demand for domestic travel is high and last week the airline started a petition calling on state leaders to ease domestic travel restrictions or risk a lot of business failures.

The petition has already been signed by 40,000 people ahead of today' national cabinet meeting which will discuss the definition of "hotspot" for the purpose of border closures.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce speaks during a press conference in Sydney on August 25, 2017.

Alan Joyce is among the loudest critics of state border closures in Australia. Photo: William West / AFP

Joyce said the "Great Southern Land" flight was a small lifeline at this time.

"This flight ... means work for our people, who are more enthusiastic than anyone to see aircraft back in the sky," he said.

Qantas has not ruled out organising more scenic flights, an initiative taken up by airlines in Asian countries also desperate to keep pilots working.

Taiwan airline EVA recently organised a Father's Day scenic flight over the country and Japanese airline ANA took passengers on a 90-minute flight over Hawaii last month.

Singapore Airlines is now considering "flights to nowhere" to and from Changi Airport.

Joyce said considering the demand for this new kind of travel Qantas will "definitely" look to scheduling more scenic flights.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs