Australia opens its doors to Singaporean tourists, students, workers

The Australia-Singapore travel bubble becomes a two-way affair from the end of this month.

By David Flynn, November 1 2021
Australia opens its doors to Singaporean tourists, students, workers

Australia will welcome visitors from Singapore as of Sunday November 21 as the countries upgrade their 'vaccinated travel lane' agreement into a two-way stream.

While any fully-vaccinated Australian will be able to fly to Singapore and back without quarantine from November 8, Prime Minister Scott Morrison overnight announced that all Singaporeans would soon enjoy the same privilege.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Rome, Morrison said that finalising the two-way VTL with Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong mean the country was "slinging its doors open."

"This means within weeks Australia will be welcoming tourists from two of our top 10 travel destinations," he said, with inbound travel from New Zealand now also possible.

"Step by step, everything that we know and love about Australia is inching back to normal."

Although Morrison previously spoke of prioritising international students and workers over tourists, Singapore's Lee has been pushing for unrestricted movement of travellers between the two counties.

The two-way bubble

Singapore's other VTL arrangements with the UK, the USA, Canada, Germany and a handful of other European countries were established along the same fully bilateral lines.

This means that Singaporean tourists, students and workers can all head to Australian states which are open to quarantine-free international arrivals – currently limited to New South Wales and Victoria – provided they are fully-vaccinated and can present a negative result for a Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure of their flight to Sydney or Melbourne.

Morrison’s announcement was welcomed by Singapore Airlines, with Regional Vice President Louis Arul saying "this timely announcement will let loved ones in both countries reunite during the holiday season and provide travellers with many more holiday options."

"It will also support Australia’s economic recovery with the return of international students from Singapore as well as other important economic visa holders."

The week commencing November 22 will also see Qantas restart flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore, along with a reopening of its Singapore First Lounge.

Morrison also met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Rome to advance discussions on similar quarantine-free travel between Australia and Bali, which is expected to begin in December.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2013

Total posts 44

This is all well and good but Qantas/the Singapore government need to advise if Qantas flights to Singapore are VTL flights. If not, there is no point booking with QF.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

@alatar144

It’s complicated

Alan Joyce did say some time ago that all international flight will require pax to demonstrate proof of COVID vaccination. It that is still true, then all QF flights should qualify for SG’s VTL flight program as long as they apply/seek approval with the SG authorities prior departure

The issue is how QF intends to comply with the requirements of SG VTL program.

QF had no qualms about adherence to AU’s arrival requirements (either valid Australian passport or visa or proof of residency) but SG’s processes may involve plenty of private information QF may not be comfortable to collect on SG’s behalf at time of booking or predeparture check in.

Mind you several EU airlines had no problem getting their flights accredited as VTL flights so maybe I am over reading the privacy issue 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2018

Total posts 4

@XWu

Friends and I have a suspicion that they were probably caught off-guard by the special arrangements for SIN (VTL) and were not aware that they needed special allocations to operate flights that carry VTL passengers. I understand that there is a cap of 4,000 passengers a day that can come through the VTL channels, which works out to be about 200 passengers per flight. Given that SQ and Scoot have already taken quite a big portion of the allocation ex-Australia, one wonders how much there will be left for QF.

If the QF flights are not VTL, they might as well not operate them as they are currently not selling onward connections in SIN to other airlines anyway and hence anyone they carry into SIN will end up having to isolate for 7 days.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2013

Total posts 44

One would think that the basis of any agreement that Australia concludes with any country would be reciprocal with equal access to designated capacity. If SQ and Scoot get so many seats, QF (or any Australian airline) should be able to match it if they wish.  Wouldn't surprise me if this detail has been left on the sidelines in the zeal to reopen our borders.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

@wenglock_mok

Yes and no

The SG local rag quotes

 CAAS said it has invited both Singapore-based and foreign airlines to operate the designated VTL flights.

"The airlines are planning the flights they wish to operate based on their respective commercial considerations and will announce their plans when ready," it added. "We will monitor the demand and may adjust the quota of VTL travellers entering Singapore if needed."”

So there is no strict absolute daily cap number of arrivals, as long as the “average” daily numbers is about whatever is quoted. 

If QF is going to use that as an excuse, it is pretty lame.

SQ and TZ or TR can use up some allocations but SG will not allow itself to be see favouring the SG based airlines, so it’s a matter of QF applying for VTL designation and then the quota cap redistribute themselves. 

And BTW the 3000 or 4000 daily arrival caps is for all pax arriving on VTL flights so that means the quotas affect all VTL countries (ie total 4000 a day includes all pax from France, Australia, UK, Germany etc)

Also the VTL scheme has been running for at least 2 months with demonstration between SG and DL for all to show, and also ScoMo has been talking about travel bubble with SG for yonks like 5 months so if no one at QF was aware or prepared for the travel with SG, then Alan Joyce really should have sacked its middle tier and heads should roll.

Really.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

Interesting article at SMH since their original headline and article actually suggest 28 Nov not 21 Nov, but hey it’s not like there is going to be a horde of tourists swamping the border force although it is now time for DIMA (or DHA or whatever they call themselves now) to start working to sort out visas

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2568

Yes, SMH revised date this morning and ST etc also concur on Nov21 – still waiting to see more detail on all this from the Singaporean Government...

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

@David

Interestingly most SG news outlets and even the SG PM reference the Fairfax new report and ScoMo… it is as if ScoMo made that declaration without tell the SG counterpart before hand

BTW what’s with this “ inbound travel from New Zealand now also possible.” as I thought NSW and VIC already agree to quarantine free arrival from South Island since mid October?

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 378

It does not help Adelaide people who unless they fly Singapore Airlines come in through Sydney or Melbourne anyway to be honest.the other option of into Perth on SQ and connecting onto Virgin onto Adelaide sadly is not there for the most part.

02 Nov 2021

Total posts 1

As others have pointed out, there is something missing from Qantas on clarifying if they are operating designated VTL flights on the SIN-AUS Vaccinated Travel Lane. I have tried commenting on Qantas’ FB posts and have also private messaged directly but have not yet received a response. 

This is what I have sent Qantas:

—-

Qantas Great to see flights returning from Sydney to Singapore effective 23 November. However, some clarity is needed. I have reached out to your Singapore Customer Services twice on this issue but not yet received a clear answer. The issue is this: Whilst travelling under a VTL is great - and I understand all need to be fully vaccinated - the point is that Singapore requires the flight to be a "DESIGNATED VTL FLIGHT"  so that no quarantine would be required upon arrival into Singapore. Without this EXPLICIT designation, I do not have the confidence to book a Qantas flight under the VTL because the risk is significant that one has to serve the 7-day quarantine. This link (https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/vtl/requirements-and-process) clearly sets this out - and as time of writing this, Qantas has NO flights listed as "Designated VTL" flights. Flying Qantas to Singapore without this explicit designation leaves one in doubt whether the 7-day quarantine will be required. Now of course - as the Customer Service Team member here in Singapore implied, all your flights into Singapore are fine, but without this very explicit designation, I cannot be confident it is the case. I also want to draw your attention to how Singapore Airlines very clearly mark their flights as "Designated VTL flights" so it leaves no doubt. As a loyal (Platinum) customer, I would very much prefer to fly with you - and yet, time is a ticking and one cannot keep waiting. I have to make a booking soon so please please make this clarification asap. Without it, I would have no alternative but to book with your friends at SQ. I will continue to check for updates.

—-

I sent that on Sunday 31 October - and still no response. Can’t seem to find a way of getting explicit clarification that the QF flights into Singapore will be designated VTL flights. Why would I take the risk with a QF flight into SIN if you have to quarantine?! Unfortunately I can’t wait any longer and have now booked with SQ. Really very frustrating. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

@Kennel

I am not sure of your previous experience with communication with QF as a Platinum QFF but I thought you were rather optimistic to expect a personal response from them within 2 days, including msg via PM and social media, regarding a designated requirement involving another city state with pretty clear evidence that QF has been caught short with their planning particularly with ground breaking no-quarantine announcement from DomPer some 3 weeks ago, and the annouceable news thrown in by ScoMo regarding the AU-SG travel bubble (certainly an attempt at distraction on the news front on the controversy around the coalition policy on climate change target and his yeh-maybe-I’m going trip to COP26 after the G20 meeting).

I am sure you can get a status-match with any star alliance airline (just ask any star airlines you haven’t tried before) and enjoy your trip with the plat privileges!

I can't see why the Qantas flights wouldn't be declared as VTL flights because they are only going from Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore and then back the other way, Qantas isn't flying onwards legs like SQ does. Every Qantas international passenger has to be fully vaccinated, too.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 508

@AsiaBizTraveller

I agree with you that there is no reason why QF can’t get their VTL status, but it requires QF asking for it with the required paperwork and agreement to follow specified procedures and then the SG authorities bestowing that privilege. As reflected above there is some sort of average daily arrival quota (although not necessarily a absolute number for any particular day…. I think) so it’s not a “given” by any means.

One thing for sure though, it’s the flight is not VTL, there will be no way the by-the-book SG authorities will bend the rules for anyone.

Excellent news for states that have quarantine free travel - Singapore is looking at extending their restrictions, which will see a lot of locals and expats leave for an extended period around Christmas. With its wealthy population, it's sure to bring in some much welcomed tourist dollars. 


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