Coronavirus Singapore

Crucial for states to revive air travel: Iswaran

It is crucial for states to work together to rebuild public confidence and reopen borders with safe, quarantine-free air travel, said Transport Minister S. Iswaran on Tuesday.

"Today, we stand at an inflection point to revive and resume international travel," he said at a conference on Covid-19 organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

"Our goal as government and industry leaders must be to restore the role of aviation in connecting people, places and opportunities."

Mr Iswaran was among 46 transport ministers who attended the virtual conference, which had the aim of fostering global consensus on a multilateral approach to restoring the international aviation sector.

Each country's path to this goal will be informed by its circumstances and priorities, Mr Iswaran noted. Singapore, he said, has done so through an "evidence-based, risk-adjusted approach".

Last week, the country announced an expansion of its quarantine-free vaccinated travel scheme to 11 countries, up from the initial two. The additional countries include Britain, South Korea and the United States.

Singapore aims to "do more with all partners", he said, expressing the hope that the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme can also serve as a "pathfinder" for more countries and regions to reconnect safely.

Mr Iswaran stressed the urgent need for collective action to rebuild a stronger, safer and more resilient global aviation system - a prospect possible only if states, private companies and the ICAO work together.

"ICAO plays a central role in bringing together states to forge a path to the post-pandemic new normal," he said.

The ICAO is the United Nations specialised agency tasked with the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation.

The International Air Transport Association said earlier this month that there is little evidence to support ongoing strict border restrictions, and forecast that international travel demand will reach 44 per cent of 2019's level next year - double that of this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2021, with the headline 'Crucial for states to revive air travel: Iswaran'. Subscribe