SINGAPORE - Changi Airport has set up new Transit Holding Areas (THA) in Terminals 1 and 3 as it prepares for the gradual resumption of transit passenger services, which were suspended when Singapore imposed border restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is to ensure the health and safety of passengers and staff, Changi Airport Group (CAG) told The Straits Times, after Singapore Airlines (SIA) confirmed that it has received approval to start operating transit flights.
In an update on its website on Thursday morning, SIA said that travellers will be able to transit through Changi Airport from selected cities in Australia and New Zealand, to any destination in SIA's group network operated by SIA, SilkAir or Scoot, from Thursday (June 11).
The transit flights are only for outbound journeys from Australian cities Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, as well as New Zealand cities Auckland and Christchurch.
Passengers will not be able to transit from other places in SIA's group network through Singapore into these cities, the national carrier added.
Customers should ensure that they meet the entry requirements for their final destination.
Transfers to and from flights operated by other airlines are currently not permitted.
"In line with regulatory requirements, transit and non-transit passengers will be kept apart at Changi Airport. This is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and staff," the carrier said.
CAG told ST that upon arrival, passengers flying through Changi will be guided to the transit areas, which will be open only for transit passengers and authorised airport staff.
Temperature taking will be conducted at the entrance and the areas will be put through deep cleaning and disinfection regularly.
Transit passengers waiting for their connecting flights must wear a face mask and follow safe distancing markers while airport staff working in the holding areas must use a face mask, face shield and gloves.
They will also get amenities including "comfortable seating, snooze areas, light entertainment and a play area", the airport said.
They will be able to purchase light meals, snacks and drinks on-site. They can also make tax-free purchases with the help of a shopping concierge service and have their shopping delivered to them safely.
Prior to the announcements, foreign passengers were only allowed to transit through Singapore only if they were on repatriation flights arranged by their governments.
Air traffic here has plummeted since all short-term visitors from anywhere in the world were disallowed entry to or transit through Singapore on March 23.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in May that Changi Airport now handles only around 100 arrival and 700 departure passengers a day.
In comparison, Changi Airport handled more than 170,000 passengers a day last May, while daily flights have fallen from 7,400 before the virus outbreak to just 80.
However, there are signs of recovery as countries start to ease out of lockdowns and the air travel sector starts the road to recovery.
Singapore is also looking at green lane agreements with selected countries, the first of which to be announced is the one "fast lane" between Singapore and China which was announced on May 29.
The lane will be launched in June for essential travel for business and official purposes between the two countries, as they emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with control measures in place.
It would first apply to Singapore and six provinces or municipalities directly under the Chinese central government - Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This arrangement will be gradually expanded to the other Chinese provinces and municipalities.
For transfer lanes through Changi Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has invited airlines to submit their proposals which will be evaluated based on aviation safety, public health considerations, as well as the health of passengers and aircrew, CAG said.
Correction note: The article has been edited for clarity.