Taiwanese airlines launch "flights to nowhere" to cure travel bug

Aviation Updates Philippines – As countries throughout Asia and the world continue to have some travel restrictions amid the ongoing pandemic, airlines in Taiwan have turned to a different offering to appeal to travelers yearning to get away from home: sightseeing flights “to nowhere."


Image: EVA Air "Hello Kitty" Livery Airbus A330-300 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


 Ranging from a few hours to half-a-day, Taiwanese airlines have offered seats on special flights departing Taipei's airports of Songhan and Taoyuan. The flights will often fly towards neighboring countries before returning back to Taipei


Among the prominent airlines participating in this new trend are EVA Air, China Airlines, and newcomer Starlux Airlines.


On Saturday (August 8), EVA Air flew a fully-booked Airbus A330 (309 seats) on a special Father's Day flight. The two-hour and forty-five minute flight took off from Taipei-Taoyuan Airport, flew over the northeast Taiwan, circled Japan's Ryukyu Islands before following the same path back to Taipei. 


EVA Air's A330 used on the flights features the popular Sanrio-themed livery featuring Hello Kitty characters.


Image: EVA Air's special flight BR5288 (Source: Flightradar24) 

Fellow competitor China Airlines has also sold seats on special flights for children (ages 6-10) and parents during the end of July and August. Along with a ride on a Boeing 737-800 around the island of Taiwan, the children will also learn from the carrier's flight attendants about their jobs during a pre-flight class.


To add its own offering as it has faced difficulties during its initial year of operation, Taiwanese startup airline Starlux reported its own sightseeing flight on August 7 was sold out within minutes after going on sale.


Starlux's sightseeing flight on August 7 took off from Taipei-Taoyuan and flew south to the Philippines before coming back to Taiwan. 


Image: Starlux's special flight JX8888 (Source: Flightradar24)  

The airlines are offering various inflight offerings, with EVA Air and Starlux offering Michelin-starred meals onboard.


While Taiwan has been seen as an example country with its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel to and from the country is still restricted though transit travel has since resumed through Taipei-Taoyuan.