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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - As planes around the world remain grounded due to international travel restrictions, some airlines have started offering passengers a new option - a 'flight to nowhere'.

Australian airline Qantas recently put a seven-hour 'scenic flight' on sale - an aerial sightseeing tour involving flyovers of some of Australia's most iconic locations.

Tickets for the October 10th flight - which takes off from Sydney and lands at Sydney - started at $787 (€480), and sold out nearly instantly.

Qantas isn't alone, either, with aviation analyst Alex Macheras telling The Hard Shoulder it's becoming a bit of a trend.

He explained: 

"These are flights to nowhere - flights that are people able to pay to board. In the case of Qantas, which is Australia's national airline, the flights will operate for around seven hours across various scenic parts of the beautiful country that is Australia.

"[It includes] the Great Barrier Reef... the Sydney Opera House from above... before returning, [with the airline] having made at least some money as [they] continue to figure out what the hell they're going to be able to do to cope with this ongoing pandemic."

He said the idea started in Taiwan and is now also being considered by Singapore Airlines.

'People are desperate to travel'

The first Qantas flight sold out in less than 10 minutes, with the CEO saying it's probably the fastest selling flight in the airline's history.

The airline says it will consider more of the scenic flights if the demand is there.

Alex observed: 

"People are desperate to travel, and Australia has cut itself off from the rest of the world. Qantas... their international fleet is totally grounded. They've said they probably won't fly any international flights until July 2021 at the earliest. They're thinking what can they do to keep their aircraft active, keep some of their pilots' licences intact, and make a little bit of money from people who want to reconnect with the love of the long security lines, clear plastic bags, shoulder-to-shoulder seating... but most importantly the nice views."

Alex himself has been on a few of these flights for work, including a "stunning" one over Switzerland.

While passengers can't buy middle seats, they can buy window seats or aisle seats - with Alex saying he doesn't quite see the appeal of the latter option.

However, he said: 

"I think if you're sat by the window, and you want to reconnect with air travel in this way and the price is right... who can blame them?"

Alex said he'd personally prefer to see Qantas working with the Australian government to set up measures to reopen the country to some extent, rather than resigning themselves to not flying until there's a vaccine.

Source: newstalk

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