Using grounded planes as novelty concept restaurants could provide a much-needed revenue stream for the struggling airline industry, if Singapore Airlines’ recent success is any indication.
On Monday, the carrier began allowing people to reserve seats at “A380@Changi,” a pop-up restaurant on board an Airbus A380 that never leaves Changi Airport. Within 30 minutes, hundreds of tickets had sold out, according to Bloomberg News. Prices ranged from 53.50 Singapore dollars ($39.50) for a meal served in an economy seat to 642 Singapore dollars (roughly $474) for a suite.
Singapore Airlines initially planned to offer the dinners during only one weekend in October, and it is now drawing up a waiting list to figure out how it will meet demand, Bloomberg reported. Before announcing the pop-up restaurant, the company had considered selling tickets for “flights to nowhere,” which take off and land at the same airport with no stops in between. Intended to generate profits during the downturn by appealing to people who are nostalgic for air travel, the idea has been widely criticized for its environmental impact.
Diners at “A380@Changi” won’t get to see anything out the Airbus’s windows, but they will be able to enjoy complimentary drinks and a meal prepared by Shermay Lee, a well-known Singaporean chef. They will also get a behind-the-scenes tour of the A380, which is considered one of the world’s most luxurious airplanes, according to Business Insider. And they will get to go home with the amenity kits that are typically handed out to premium cabin travelers.
The Airbus A380 typically seats as many as 471 people, but capacity will be slashed in half to comply with social distancing guidelines, Bloomberg reported.
Singapore Airlines experienced a record loss of roughly $827 million this spring when the coronavirus brought international air travel to an abrupt halt, and it has been selling home-delivered meals to try to make up for the shortfall.