TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An EVA Air pilot flew a route that formed a thumbs-up sign on a map to show his support for medical staff battling the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, reports said Saturday (Aug. 15).
As international travel has been severely limited due to the virus, “pretend tours abroad” have become popular in Taiwan. Passengers book a flight with full service, which takes them around the island and sometimes up to Japan or close to the Philippines, but which never land anywhere, before returning to the airport of origin.
Saturday morning, EVA Air flight BR5288 first took travelers from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport east over the Japanese island of Yonaguni, before heading south past Pingtung County. Once southwest of Taiwan, it turned over the Taiwan Strait to leave the clear shape of a thumbs-up sign on maps shown by flight tracking websites, the Liberty Times reported.
The sign was intended to thank and encourage medical personnel worldwide fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the airline said. The plane was an Airbus A330 decked out with Hello Kitty cartoon characters.
Passengers were also offered souvenirs and duty-free goods licensed by Japan’s Sanrio Co., Ltd., the creator of Hello Kitty, attracting youngsters and couples preparing for the Aug. 25 Chinese Valentine’s Day. On Aug. 8, EVA Air organized a similar three-hour flight for Father’s Day, during which the plane drew the route map of a heart.