Quarantine-free air travel resumes after India lifts restrictions on Singapore

Travellers arriving in India from Singapore will be allowed to travel freely. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Travellers from Singapore will be able to fly into India without having to serve quarantine, thus reinstating quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers between the two countries.

The Republic had last month been put on a list of territories deemed by India to be of higher risk of Covid-19 infections, following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

This meant that travellers arriving in India from Dec 1 would have had to face home quarantine for seven days, among other restrictions.

But India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare removed the Republic from the list on Thursday (Dec 9).

The move means that travellers arriving in India from Singapore will be allowed to travel freely. But they will have to monitor their health for 14 days after touching down there.

Singapore started a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for travellers from India on Nov 29, after the aviation authorities agreed to resume scheduled commercial flights between the two countries.

Under the VTL, travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may enter Singapore without quarantine but need to undergo Covid-19 testing before departure and upon arrival at Changi Airport.

As an additional precaution in response to the emergence of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, these travellers will also have to take daily antigen rapid tests for seven days after their arrival.

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie from consulting firm Sobie Aviation said the resumption of scheduled services between Singapore and India on Nov 29 was the most significant development yet in the recovery for the Changi air hub.

This was due to India being a huge inbound, outbound and transit market for Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Changi Airport, he said.

While scheduled services continued to be operated to all of Changi's major markets throughout the pandemic, India permitted charters for only 20 months, since March 2020.

"India was a major hole in the Changi and SIA network. The SIA Group has quickly resumed 51 weekly flights to India, including 21 VTL flights," added Mr Sobie.

"With quarantine-free travel between the two countries an option again, these flights are now more viable."

There are six designated VTL flights to Singapore daily from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has called for governments worldwide to reconsider all new border restrictions reintroduced in response to the Omicron variant, citing advice from the World Health Organisation.

The industry group's director-general Willie Walsh said: "All measures should be time-bound and regularly reviewed.

"It is unacceptable that rushed decisions have created fear and uncertainty among travellers just as many are about to embark on year-end visits to family or hard-earned vacations."

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