Forum: SIA should study carbon cost of 'flights to nowhere'

An SIA plane comes in to land at Changi Airport.
An SIA plane comes in to land at Changi Airport.PHOTO: ST FILE

Readers of The Sunday Times the past weekend were greeted with a dramatic picture of a lone firefighter on the front page battling the wildfires raging across the three states lining the west coast of the United States.

Flip to the third page and one would have seen a news report on Singapore Airlines (SIA) considering having "flights to nowhere" in order to boost its pandemic-hit business (SIA eyeing 'flights to nowhere' to give a lift to ailing business, Sept 13).

The report touched on several points but there was no mention of the carbon emissions that would be dumped into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gas emissions from flights have been well documented. Do we want to add to this unnecessary burning of fuel while parts of the world are literally on fire?

In the past year, we have seen massive fires sweeping across the globe due to climate change - from previously freezing Siberia way up north to Australia in the Southern Hemisphere.

Perhaps SIA could conduct a study to find out the level of emissions that would arise from the no-destination flights, as well as the potential impact.

Even then, with efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions already so difficult, why add to the challenge? Is there no better way to boost business?

And to people who are considering taking such flights, consider the potential backlash.

Even if the backlash for both company and customers does not happen right away, it will come one day as more and more people realise the dire situation we are in and indifference turns into anger and blame.

Consider this: In the past, painting one's face "black" was not taboo and was instead considered acceptable in the name of a good laugh. Today, it is an instant path to pariahdom, and those guilty of such deeds in the past are not spared either.

Think of how "flights to nowhere" will look 10 years from now as the more potent effects of climate change begin to hit us.

Be on the right side of history - do the right thing.

Terence Chin Yuen Yeen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline 'SIA should study carbon cost of 'flights to nowhere''. Subscribe