Hundreds of travel-starved ‘passengers’ dine on parked planes of Singapore Airlines

Food for thought: Singapore Airlines stewardesses serve passengers at Restaurant A380 on board a parked superjumbo at Changi International Airport. (AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2020

Hundreds of travel-starved ‘passengers’ dine on parked planes of Singapore Airlines

  • Superjumbos become pop-up restaurants as part of ‘flight to nowhere’ tour

SINGAPORE: Hundreds of travel-starved diners ate lunch and watched seat-back films aboard two parked Singapore Airlines jets turned into pop-up restaurants on Saturday.

With the aviation industry in deep crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have turned to alternative ways to raise cash, from offering “flights to nowhere” to tours of aircraft.

Singapore’s flag carrier, which has cut thousands of jobs and grounded nearly all its planes this year, offered passengers the chance to dine on board two A380 superjumbos — the world’s biggest passenger jet.

On Saturday more than 400 diners checked in at Changi Airport and went through the usual security checks before arriving at the aircraft for lunch.

“The food is pretty amazing, it’s better than the one they serve during the flight,” Zhou Tai Di, a 17-year-old student in economy class, told AFP as he tucked into his soy sauce-glazed chicken with spicy fried eggplant and rice.

Some settled in for a nap while waiting for their meals to be served, while others watched movies on the seat-back entertainment systems.

About half the seats were left empty, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines.

Calvin Teo, a 29-year-old civil servant and aviation buff, paid Sg$321 ($236) to be served a six-course meal in business class, saying he missed flying and hoped to recreate the experience.

“Of course the feeling of actually flying will be better, because there’s the excitement of going to a new destination, to explore a new destination, and even though we can’t do it now due to Covid, this is a good substitute for now, to recreate the feels of taking a long-haul flight,” he told AFP.

The most expensive option is a Sg$642 eight-course meal in a first-class suite, while the cheapest costs Sg$53 and consists of a three-course meal in economy class.

A limited number of diners were also able to tour the double-decker aircraft and take selfies with pilots in the cockpit.

The tarmac meals proved surprisingly popular — the airline announced six additional sessions after more than 900 lunch tickets sold out within 30 minutes of bookings opening earlier this month.

The airline is also offering home deliveries of plane meals, but it has ditched plans for “flights to nowhere” — short journeys starting and ending at the same airport — following an outcry over the potential environmental impact.


Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

Updated 30 November 2020

Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

  • A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos

LONDON: Last-ditch Brexit trade talks continued in London on Sunday with fishing rights remaining an “outstanding major bone of contention,” according to British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “work continues, even on a Sunday,” as he arrived for the second day of talks.

Barnier had arrived in London on Friday following a spell in self-isolation after a member of his team contracted coronavirus and ahead of the resumption of talks with British counterpart David Frost on Saturday.

Both men warned that a deal could not be reached without major concessions from the other party.

There are only five weeks to go until the end of the current transition period, during which trade relations have remained largely unchanged.

The two key sticking points remain post-Brexit access to British fishing waters for European vessels and the EU’s demand for trade penalties if either side diverges from common standards or state aid regulations rules.

Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that this could be the final week of “substantive” talks, with time running out to agree and ratify a deal.

“There’s a deal to be done,” he said.

“On fishing there’s a point of principle: As we leave the EU we’re going to be an independent coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters,” he added.

Barnier told envoys last week that London was asking that European access to UK waters be cut by 80 percent, while the EU was willing to accept 15 to 18 percent, according to a Brussels source.

A British official called the demands “risible,” according to the domestic Press Association, adding that the “EU side knows full well that we would never accept this.”

“There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalize the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation,” said the source.

However, Raab was cautiously optimistic over the “level playing field” issue, saying “it feels like there is progress toward greater respect” for Britain’s position.

A failure to reach an agreement would see Britain and the EU trading on World Trade Organization terms, with tariffs immediately imposed on goods traveling to and from the continent.

As it stands, Britain will leave Europe’s trade and customs area on Dec. 31, with no prospect of an extension.

A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos, with customs checks required at borders.

Concern is particularly acute on the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, where the sudden imposition of a hard border threatens the delicate peace secured by 1999’s Good Friday Agreement.

The talks have already dragged on much longer than expected and time is running out for ratification of any deal by the European Parliament by the end of the year.