Qantas says it will "definitely look at" running more joy flights which begin and end at the same airport, following the sell-out success of the initial Great Southern Land tour.
Despite prices ranging from $3,787 in business class to $787 in economy, all 149 seats on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner were snapped up in ten minutes – a rate of one seat every four seconds, making this what a Qantas spokesperson described as "probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas' history."
No surprise, then, that the airline is already looking at repeating the exercise. "We definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open," the spokesperson confirmed. "People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying."
The scenic route
Passengers on the October 10 jaunt will certainly get their fill of flying, spending seven hours aloft and taking in sights from the New South Wales and Queensland coasts, including the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, to Uluru and Kata Tjuta in Australia's 'red centre'.
However, Executive Traveller understands that the border restrictions and lockdowns currently in place in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia would likely rule out Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth for those flights, due to the necessary involvement of Sydney-based personnel.
“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 says.
“Australia is a great land and home to unique wonders like Uluru and the Whitsundays, so we know that it will be truly special to experience this beautiful country from the comfort and freedom of the sky."
Cost neutral, carbon neutral
Despite raising just over $200,000 in ticket sales in that 10-minute dash, Qantas says the first Great Southern Land flight will operate on a "cost neutral basis", with the relatively high price of some fares reflecting that middle seats were not offered for sale in order to allow more passengers to enjoy the views.
The airline also said the flights would be carbon neutral, with Qantas purchasing carbon offsets against the estimated 40 tonnes of jet fuel burned during the flight – an arrangement panned by some critics.
“Most carbon-offsetting schemes have been shown to be ineffective in terms of their ability to absorb the necessary carbon, or they simply pay into existing schemes which don’t actually compensate for your flight," said Flight Free UK director Anna Hughes told The Independent in relation to Qantas' forthcoming Antarctic sightseeing flights.
“In addition, carbon-offset schemes often mean that people feel that they have dealt with the impact of their flight, so they continue to fly. The best way to offset carbon emissions is to not produce them in the first place."
Singapore Airlines is also said to be planning scenic flights for late October which will begin and end at Changi Airport, and may be bundled with staycations at the city’s hotels plus shopping vouchers.
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.