Airlines Try New Strategies to Bring Back Customers on Board

By Thomas Price Thursday, October 1, 2020

Among the many different industries ravaged by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, very few have been hit as hard as the airline industry. With most, if not all, airlines losing billions of dollars this year, many have been trying new and creative methods in order to gain back customers who have been too afraid or entirely unallowed to take air travel. One of these new strategies is offering flights to nowhere. Many airlines are now offering flights that take off and land in the exact same airport with a circular flight that would just give passengers the sensation and feeling of air travel, and travel in general again. Will this plan help recoup some of the losses that airlines have taken in 2020, and what sort of incentive is there for a person to take one of these flights?

Airline Losses in 2020

It is no secret that airlines have seen unbelievable losses in revenue in 2020 due to travel restrictions and the fear of the safety of flying because of COVID-19. Given these setbacks, the United States travel industry as a whole has seen its revenues drop by a staggering $500 billion in 2020. This financial loss is a catastrophic strike to air travel that has put nearly every single airline in a deep hole of losses. Unfortunately, the near future doesn’t bode well for the industry either, with it appearing that it will take until at least 2024 for revenues to reach near 2019 levels again.

When looking at a specific airline, the results are very much in line with the entire industry. For instance, in their most recent quarter, American Airlines reported just $1.62 billion in revenue. In comparison to the same quarter in 2019, this is an astounding 86.44% decline in revenue. The profits of American Airlines paint an even more dire situation. In the same quarter, American Airlines reported a gross profit of negative $2.87 billion. This translates to a horrifying 183.55% decline in profits when looking at the same quarter from 2019. This is not unique to American Airlines either. Delta Airlines reported similar drop-offs in revenue as well, with their most recent quarterly report showing an 88.29% decline from the same quarter in 2019. The gross profits came in at a negative $1.911 billion, which is a steep 138.12% decline from the previous year’s quarter. With the airline industry numbers performing so poorly, companies are coming up with any and all ideas to bring back customers on board. This is where the flights to nowhere come in.

What Exactly a Flight to Nowhere Entails

Beginning with the Australian airline, Qantas, flights that circle through the country only to return exactly where they began, have become rather popular. In fact, the first offered flight of this nature by Qantas sold out in an astonishing 10 minutes. The flight details were a seven-hour trip that would show off many different Australian landmarks outside of the window, including unique low-altitude sections for specific locations. Special onboard entertainment would also be made available, including a celebrity host, though who that host remains unclear. In order to maximize the sightseeing potential, the flight will be using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is usually reserved for international flights. The large windows and the ability to fly smoothly at low altitudes make the experience more enjoyable for the passengers. Ticket prices ranged from $575 on the low end all the way up to $2,765. The flight is set to take place on the 10th of October.

Many other airlines have followed suit as well in countries like Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore. In Taiwan, while international travel is still banned, due to their strong handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic travel has boomed in its place. So, a sightseeing flight like this has generated a serious amount of popularity among local travelers. While this has been a popular event, it appears that these flights will make little to no impact on the losses that airlines will still be taking in this year. Industry experts have predicted that these flights will more or less break even on initial costs, with the most optimistic predicting a very small profit.

Final Conclusions

At the end of the day, these flights to nowhere are a creative way to scratch the traveling itch that many former frequent flyers had while planes were essentially grounded due to travel bans. It may continue to generate headlines and bring some healthy interest back toward airline travel, which has suffered so greatly in 2020, but the overall losses taken will not be recouped. However, these scenic flights to nowhere have been rather popular and will certainly come as a small sense of normalcy and relief, as well as a rare chance to view many country landmarks in a manner that would not have been possible without them.

About the Author

Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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