SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): The first flight ferrying passengers from Germany travelling under a quarantine-free scheme has landed at Changi Airport.
SQ325, operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA), touched down at 5.36pm on Wednesday (Sept 8). It departed from Frankfurt at about 10pm local time on Tuesday, or 4am on Wednesday, Singapore time.
The plane was expected to land at Terminal 3 at 4.25pm on Wednesday, but arrived later due to a reroute to avoid Afghan airspace.
SQ325’s landing marks the start of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, which is open to Brunei and Germany.
Vaccinated travellers under the scheme will take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests in lieu of quarantine, and have to follow other conditions like taking designated VTL flights to Singapore.
Germany-based aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth, 55, who was on the flight, told The Straits Times he was happy to travel again on an SIA plane, and praised the airline for its service on board.
He was travelling to Singapore as part of a media trip organised by SIA and the Singapore Tourism Board. He had first visited the Republic in 1986.
“It’s very heartening to get a feeling of more normality coming back to travel life being able to go to Singapore again,” he added.
“But I am slightly anxious (over) how easygoing formalities on arrival will be in Changi.”
While Brunei remains closed to leisure travel, Germany has been open to travellers from the Republic since October last year. This means Singapore residents can use the VTL scheme to travel without quarantine in either country.
The VTL’s successful start has brought relief to travel agents and would-be travellers, who had feared the scheme might be derailed, as with the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble.
The bubble for quarantine-free travel was supposed to launch last November, but was delayed several times on the back of unstable Covid-19 situations in both cities. It was cancelled last month without a single flight taking off.
Steven Ler, president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said the first VTL flight has been a breakthrough from the unsuccessful air travel bubble with Hong Kong.
He added that the reopening to Germany is a good start for international leisure travel, with travel agents already receiving inquiries for trips to Germany for year-end holidays.
“We hope to see things pick up a lot more, and that will give a lot more confidence to those who are still adopting a wait-and-see approach.”