Coronavirus: Travellers can transit through Changi from June 2

Currently, foreign passengers may only transit through Singapore if they are on repatriation flights. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Travellers will gradually be allowed to transit through Changi Airport from June 2, as Singapore embarks on its phased exit from the circuit breaker period.

The move is part of a strategy to progressively reopen air transport to meet the needs of Singapore's economy and people, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said yesterday.

Currently, foreign passengers may transit through Singapore only if they are on repatriation flights arranged by their governments.

Under the new measures, airlines will have to submit proposals for transfer lanes in Changi Airport to CAAS. The proposals will be evaluated based on aviation safety, public health considerations and the health of passengers and crew.

Stringent measures will also be implemented to ensure transit passengers remain in designated facilities within the transit area and do not mix with other passengers.

Airport staff interacting with passengers will have to wear personal protective equipment, while existing precautionary measures will remain in force.

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 earlier this month that Changi Airport now handles only around 100 arrival and 700 departure passengers a day.

International air travel, brought to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, has begun to resume at a trickle. China and South Korea opened a tightly controlled travel corridor between Seoul and 10 Chinese regions earlier this month, while Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lifted travel restrictions among the three Baltic countries last Friday.

But concerns remain over the lack of global consensus on what safeguards should be implemented across the board by airlines and airports to prevent new waves of infection.

Yesterday, the Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association called on governments to ensure that any new measures introduced are supported by scientific evidence and are consistent around the world. The two industry groups represent airports and airlines, respectively.

ACI World director-general Angela Gittens said: "There is currently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel.

"But we believe a globally consistent, outcome-based approach represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Travellers can transit through Changi from June 2. Subscribe