As travelling abroad has become less practical as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tigerair Taiwan launched their debut ‘flight to nowhere’ in September, a 1300 mile round trip across Taiwan and South Korea which carried 120 passengers.
The idea is that passengers can still enjoy the travelling experience, as well as doing some aerial sightseeing. Keen travellers have certainly snapped at this opportunity, as the Australian airline Qantas sold out their 7 hour flight over the outback and the Great Barrier Reef in 10 minutes. But are these flights really a good idea?
Environmentally speaking, the answer to that question is a resounding no. Whichever way you cut it, a flight to nowhere has a huge environmental impact, with very little gain.
For years environmentalists have been encouraging people to use another form of transport, as flying produces the highest levels of CO2 per journey of any form of transport. In 2019, the estimated global total of CO2 production by flights was 915 million tonnes.
Admittedly, it is difficult for most people to find a different mode of transport for long-distance journeys abroad - like it or not, flying is a necessity. However, a flight landing in exactly the same destination it set off from is so far from a necessity it's almost unbelievable. It’s as if people are going out of their way to cause harm to the environment.
Regardless of the huge environmental issues, and they really shouldn’t be disregarded, I struggle to understand why anyone would enjoy this excursion. Strapping yourself into a metal tube for hours on end with over a hundred strangers all breathing the same compressed air doesn’t sound like the ideal pandemic activity, but maybe that’s just me.