Singapore will from February 22 relax entry and testing requirements for vaccinated travel lane (VTL) passengers but those departing from India will still have to furnish a negative PCR or professionally administered ART test within two days of flight departure.
According to Singapore Airlines (SIA), fully vaccinated passengers travelling to Singapore from February 22 on VTL flights from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai will have their travel history requirement reduced from 14 to 7 days.
To be eligible for VTL flights, travellers must not have any travel history (including transit) outside of VTL countries/regions, or outside of countries/regions listed as Category I (Macao, Mainland China, and Taiwan) by Singapore’s ministry of health in the past seven days, SIA said.
“If the traveller has been in Singapore within those last seven days, his/her stay in Singapore can be counted towards fulfilling this seven-day travel history requirement,” the statement said.
The second change will be that the long-term pass holders will no longer have to apply for a vaccinated travel pass (VTP) to travel to Singapore on a VTL flight. However, a VTP is still required for short-term visitors and work permit holders. The on-arrival testing requirements in Singapore will also be relaxed.
“From February 22, VTL travellers need not take an on-arrival Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at Changi Airport. Instead, they will be required to take a supervised self-swab Antigen Rapid Test (ART) at any test centre located across Singapore within 24 hours of arrival,” it said.
A testing notice with a web link to book tests would be issued to travellers upon their entry into Singapore. If the above ART is negative, no further ART/PCR tests are required throughout one’s stay in Singapore.
The changes to Singapore’s VTL entry and testing requirements follow the government’s announcement last month exempting VTL travellers from all testing requirements if they had recently recovered from Covid-19 (within 7 to 90 days of their last infection before departure to Singapore) and can provide appropriate documentary proof of their recovery.
Singapore Airlines operates 52 flights to Singapore from eight cities in India, which includes daily, quarantine-free VTL services from Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai.
It operates non-VTL services from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Kochi, and customers travelling on these flights will need to adhere to the entry rules. Scoot, SIA’s low-cost subsidiary, operates non-VTL services from Amritsar, Hyderabad, and Tiruchirappalli.
The reopening announcement is timely for the carrier as in its January operating statistics report, SIA observed a slight decline in passenger demand in January 2022 compared to a month ago.
It attributed this to the suspension of new ticket sales for VTL flights between December 22 to January 20 because of the emergence of Omicron. Since then, ticket sales have resumed and the VTL quota has been increased.
Despite this, the SIA Group (including low-cost carrier Scoot) reported a 126% increase in capacity (measured in available seat-kilometres) compared with a year ago and a 2.8% month-on-month growth, reaching 46% of pre-COVID capacity.
However, passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometres) fell 11.7% compared to the previous month, and its passenger load factor for January 2022 declined 6.5% points to 40%. There was however a 28.7% point year-on-year increase.
As of the end of January 2022, SIA’s passenger network covered 86 destinations counting Singapore and about 13 Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.