FLYING restrictions imposed by a number of countries have hit many airlines. As one of the strategies to survive in the midst of current conditions, Qantas Airways Ltd offers a tour flights to nowhere or “Fly anywhere” which takes off and lands at the same airport. “Fly anywhere” offers are currently trending, and growing in Asia.

Reporting from Weforum, Qantas said the tour flight for 7 hours over the Australian Outback and the Great Barrier Reef sold out in 10 minutes. Qantas flights, on a Boeing Co 787 normally used for long-haul international travel, will fly at low altitude over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbor before landing back in Sydney.

A company spokesman revealed that the ticket prices that the company offers depend on the class desired by passengers, ranging from US$575 to US$2,765. And the 134 available seats quickly sold out.

The high public interest in this tourism trip indicates that many people miss the trip and flying experience. The company, did not rule out opening more tour flights if there is a request for it temporarily while waiting for restrictions to open.

This is probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history. Apart from Qantas, the other airlines holding the program are EVA Airways Corp., Taiwan and ANA Holdings Inc, Japan.

EVA Taiwan used one of Hello Kitty’s iconic planes for its special Father’s Day flight last month, while ANA used an Airbus SE A380 which normally flies to Honolulu for a 90-minute flight with a Hawaiian experience on board.

Tickets costing 6,888 Taiwan dollars (US$236) for a Taiwanese Tigerair flight from Taipei that will circle South Korea’s Jeju Island reportedly sold out in 4 minutes. The price includes a one-year voucher for round-trip tickets from Taiwan to Korea, which can be used after the COVID-19 travel ban is lifted.

According to Chen Shu Tze, 44, an engineer from Taipei, said I signed up for the flight because the voucher was very good and I couldn’t travel especially to South Korea, my favorite destination.

“The pandemic is having a bad impact on the tourism and aviation industries, so I want to help boost the economy, and I miss aviation,” he said

Thai Airways International PCL this month opened a pop-up restaurant on the ground, offering in-flight meals served from airline seats to potential travelers.

Likewise Singapore Airlines Ltd is also eyeing tourist flights from next month, the country’s newspaper, the Straits Times reported on Sunday, an idea that has come under wide criticism from environmentalists and online commentators.

First, it is encouraging carbon-intensive travel for no good reason and secondly, it is just a stopgap measure that distracts from the policy and value changes needed to mitigate the climate crisis. Singapore Airlines said it was considering several initiatives but no final decision had yet been made on whether to offer sightseeing flights.

Qantas has said it will pay to offset carbon emissions on tourist flights from Sydney, although online critics have noted that it does not actually reduce emissions. The concept of tourist aviation is not new. Antarctica Flights has chartered Qantas jets for scenic flights across Antarctica for 26 years. [ special]