Thai Airways has launched a special flight that will cruise over 99 holy sites, allowing passengers to chant Buddhist mantras from the sky, in its latest attempt to boost its revenue.
The airline was struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic, and the closure of Thailand’s borders has been a devastating blow.
The company has launched a number of novel initiatives to raise cash in recent months. It has put bags made from life vests and slide rafts on sale, and opened an airline-themed cafe selling in-flight meals in Bangkok and a food stall selling dough fritters. It has also opened its Airbus and Boeing flight simulators to the public.
The new flight will not land at any destinations, but will fly over temples in 31 provinces before returning to Bangkok. Passengers will be given a prayer book and special meal, and tickets range in price from 5,999 baht (£149) to 9,999 baht (£248).
Several other airlines have launched “flights to nowhere” during the pandemic, including the Taiwanese carrier EVA, which has sold journeys from Taipei, and Japan’s ANA, which offered Hawaii-themed flights after its service to Honolulu was suspended.
Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda, has sold its in-flight meals as takeaways, and Singapore Airlines has been charging customers up to £360 a head for dinner on a stationary plane.
The pandemic has cost airlines tens of billions of dollars. Thailand, where tourism accounts for up to 20% of GDP, remains mostly shut to foreign travellers. Only small select groups of tourists are allowed to enter the country.
Thai Airways is attempting to restructure 245bn baht (£6bn) worth of debt.