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Movie screenings, cockpit tours on grounded planes among public’s counter-proposals to SIA’s ‘flights to nowhere’

SINGAPORE — Members of the public have come up with hundreds of ideas to help Singapore Airlines (SIA) generate much-needed revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as using grounded planes to screen movies or hold match-making sessions. The fees charged could vary depending on whether customers are in economy, business or first class.

One suggestion from a member of the public is that the cabins of grounded SIA aircraft could be used to hold match-making sessions.

One suggestion from a member of the public is that the cabins of grounded SIA aircraft could be used to hold match-making sessions.

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  • A group of environmentalists are seeking ideas from the public to help SIA generate income
  • The initiative came after reports that SIA plans to launch “flights to nowhere”
  • Environmentalists are concerned about carbon emissions generated from such flights
  • Some ideas from the public include creating a cinema or dining experience on board the air planes
  • Analysts said flights-to-nowhere could be inconvenient for passengers and dent SIA’s corporate image

 

SINGAPORE — Members of the public have come up with hundreds of ideas to help Singapore Airlines (SIA) generate much-needed revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as using grounded planes to screen movies or hold match-making sessions. The fees charged could vary depending on whether customers are in economy, business or first class.

The ideas are being put forward in a bid to avert a proposal that SIA is reportedly considering: Starting “flights to nowhere”, where passengers fly out of Singapore and back without landing anywhere else, as a way to generate earnings.

The collation of ideas began when four environmentalists from environmental group Neighbourhood Greenwatch banded together to try and protest the supposed plan, which was first reported by The Straits Times on Sunday (Sept 13).

Ms Melanie Ang, who is one of the organisers of the “Save SIA” initiative, said: “We started brainstorming (in our Telegram chat group) about ways that SIA could generate income without causing more harm to the environment. Someone in the group suggested that we create a submission form for people to submit their ideas.”

Besides Ms Ang, 26, a content creator, the other organisers are: Ms Chevon Low, 30, a board member at non-profit organisation People’s Movement to Stop Haze; Mr Sean Yap, 21, a first-year undergraduate from the Singapore University of Technology and Design; and Mr Mark Tszo, 37, who is looking for a job.

In response to queries from TODAY, SIA said on Tuesday it is considering several initiatives that would allow it to continue engaging its customers and members of the public, although none of these plans has been firmed up.

“We would also like to thank our customers and members of the public for their interest and feedback. As previously indicated, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time if we go ahead with any of the initiatives,” its spokesperson said.

FROM PLANE TOURS TO IN-FLIGHT DINING

As of Monday, the organisers of Save SIA had received more than 500 submissions from the public since opening the channel last Saturday, Ms Ang said.

Other proposals include a behind-the-scenes look of the plane’s cockpit and its operations, creating an airline-themed dining experience within planes, and selling airline credits that people may use to pay for trips in future.

Ms Ang said that submissions will close on Sept 20 and the organisers will then send SIA all the ideas, including a list of the 10 most feasible ones.

“We hope that SIA will pause the launch (of flights-to-nowhere) and consider other options, but if they don’t do that, we hope they will at least clarify why they chose to go ahead with it despite other sustainable options,” Ms Ang said.

The aviation industry generated 915 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year, accounting for 2 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, although a study by Australia Institute, an environmental think-tank, predicted that emissions could drop by 38 per cent this year due to flights grounded by the pandemic.

LACK OF RECURRING REVENUE 

Aviation analysts told TODAY that while flights-to-nowhere could generate short-term revenue for SIA, there were downsides such as the lack of recurring revenue and a hit to its corporate image.

Mr David Leo, an aviation veteran with three decades in the industry, said that launching flights-to-nowhere would dent SIA’s image in a period where there is heightened awareness of environmental issues.

“It would not be good for SIA’s corporate image as the proposition is likely to invite criticism from environmentally conscious groups, and smacks of insincerity and hypocrisy,” Mr Leo said, referring to pledges made by SIA to reduce its carbon footprint such as investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie noted that other national airline carriers such as Royal Brunei Airlines and Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways have pushed out flights-to-nowhere, and that airlines would consider this plan if there was interest in the market. It would be an opportunity for SIA to utilise its aircraft and deploy its crew, while generating revenue at the same time. 

However, the best way forward would be for the Government to open up more green lanes for leisure travel so that SIA can resume more flights, making flights-to-nowhere unnecessary, he added.

Echoing Mr Sobie’s sentiments, Mr Priveen Raj Naidu, also an independent analyst, said that flights-to-nowhere are a way for SIA to “flip the cost (of under-utilised flights) into revenue”.

However, passengers may find it inconvenient to adhere to the strict safety measures for Covid-19, such as having to wear masks and gloves on the plane, despite the novelty of the experience.

From a business perspective, it would also not generate recurring revenue since people are unlikely to go on multiple flights.

Commenting on some of the proposals put forth by the public, Mr Naidu said that an airline-themed dining experience could be more appealing to consumers.

Conducting tours of the plane would also be an opportunity for SIA to allay passenger concerns over the risks of contracting Covid-19 on a flight in future.

Related topics

Singapore Airlines environment feedback Covid-19 revenue

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