Faced with the collapse in air traffic due to the coronavirus, Taiwanese companies are offering scenic flights, hostess and flight attendant training for children, and even "flights to nowhere."
In recent weeks, Songshan and Taoyuan Airports have offered "flights to nowhere": People go through the boarding process, then get on a plane … who does not take off.
On Saturday morning at the headquarters of Taiwanese airline China Airlines in Taoyuan, 50 children learned how to serve passengers in a fake training cabin.
Cheng Yu-wei, who works in fashion and enjoys traveling abroad, came with his wife and six-year-old daughter to "awaken that ancient feeling of traveling".
"Maybe because we've been bored for too long"he said.
Later that day, the kids took to the skies in their new uniforms for a two-hour flight over the island and the mountains that crown it.
Like many airlines, China Airlines and its main competitor, Eva Air, have had to put away a large part of their fleets because of the traffic collapse. Moreover, they only have a small internal market on which to rely.
An Eva Air Airbus A330 took off from Taoyuan airport on Saturday to fly over northeastern Taiwan, circling the Ryuku Islands (Japan), before returning through the scenic, rural southeast coast . The flight lasted 2:45 in total. A seat in eco class sells for around 152 euros and 181 in business. The China Airlines flight, which lasted two hours, also passes through Japanese airspace. More flights are scheduled in the coming weeks as tickets sell out quickly, according to Eva Air and China Airlines.
The enthusiasm of the Taiwanese may also be explained by the fact that the risks are low of being contaminated to Covid-19 in a Taiwanese flight.
The island has often been cited in example for its management of the epidemic, which has infected less than 500 people and killed seven despite its geographic proximity and economic ties to China.
Taiwan had learned from the SARS epidemic in 2003 to set up a sophisticated tracing system sick people. It also closed its borders from the start.