After the success of its sightseeing ‘flight to nowhere’, Qantas will continue to operate scenic flights in Australia, this time around with an overnight stay at Uluru. Olivia Palamountain reports
As Australia’s domestic borders open, Qantas is extending its scenic flight concept (tickets for Qantas’s “flight to nowhere” sold out in just ten minutes) to include an over-night stay at one of the country’s most spectacular tourist destinations.
This means that the airline’s low-level flybys of Sydney Harbour, for example, will remain part of the experience.
The trend for pleasure flights kicked off earlier this year in response to closed borders during the pandemic. Popular across Asia and Australia, airlines such as Qantas and Japan’s ANA, as well as Taiwan’s Eva Air and China Airlines all got in on the action, with highlights including Eva Air’s Hello Kitty themed flights to and from Taipei on its Hello Kitty Joyful Dream Jet.
The first of Qantas’s scenic flight getaways will depart on December 5, taking 110 passengers from Sydney to Uluru to experience one of the country’s most culturally significant sites. Tickets went on sale on October 29 via Qantas.com with business class costing US$3,999 per person and economy class costing US$2,499 per person (both in twin share accommodation upon landing).
The overnight outing will include a champagne breakfast in the lounge before departure, a flight to Uluru including low-level circuits to offer passengers a bird’s eye view of Uluru and Kata Tjuta (other scared Aboriginal domed rock formations).
Created in partnership with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, guests will stay at Sails in the Desert, a premium hotel that forms part of the Ayers Rock Resort, and has a programme of activities laid on for the duration of the stay.
These include an indigenous art workshop, a night at Field of Light (a light-based installation created by British artist Bruce Munro) including a three-course dinner under the stars, with a didgeridoo performance and an indigenous interpretation of the night sky.
On the morning of departure, passengers will watch the sunrise over Uluru, followed by a guided walk to the Mutitjulu waterhole, as well as a visit to neighbouring Kata Tjuta before a late morning brunch and a flight back to Sydney for a final harbour flyby before landing.
Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce says that the airline will continue to partner with tourism operators on the ground to offer these “special flights to special destinations” and that there has never been a better time to be innovative in promoting Australia and supporting hard-hit tourism operators.
“As well as a handful of these special scenic flight experiences, we’re ready to ramp up our regular services with very competitive fares to help reunite families and friends by the end of the year,” he says.
Joyce adds: “Across Qantas and Jetstar, we’re currently operating at just under 30 per cent of our pre-Covid domestic capacity and if borders continue to be relaxed, we’re hoping that will reach about 50 per cent by Christmas. That will be great news for a lot of people in the travel and tourism industry as well.”