British Airways' plans to resume flights between London and Singapore in May could be scuppered by the city-state extending its coronavirus 'circuit breaker' measures through to June 1.
Having paused all flights to Singapore and Sydney from April 9, BA recently listed the return of its daily BA11/BA12 service beginning May 1, although Sydney remained in the 'suspended' basket owing to travel and transit bans sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Singapore's ban on transit passengers and entry by most non-citizens, introduced on March 24, remains in place and has now been incorporated into the city-state's strict 'circuit breaker' restrictions intended to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections.
This restricts residents to staying at home except for essential reasons, and makes it compulsory to wear a mask when outside; allows cafes, restaurants and hawker centres to sell only take-away food and drinks; prohibits social gatherings; imposes one metre of social distancing; and even bans the popular 'staycations' at the city's hotels, many of which are now being used for Government-mandated quarantine purposes.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this week said the circuit breaker program, initially to remain in force until May 4, would last until at least June 1 following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, mostly among the city state’s migrant worker community.
As of Tuesday Singapore had 9,125 cases of COVID-19, the highest in Southeast Asia, with an average of 20 'unlinked' cases reported each within the larger community. “This suggests there is a larger, hidden reservoir of cases in the community,” Lee said.
British Airways previously ran several London-Sydney flights by keeping all transit passengers on the aircraft during its Singapore stopover, with the flight then classified as a 'technical fuel stop' rather than the more conventional transit stop.
This saw BA15 and BA16 aircraft pull up to the gate and take on catering and crew while refuelling while most passengers – except those joining or disembarking at Singapore itself – remained on board rather than heading into the terminal and the BA lounge.
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, a British Airways spokesperson could offer only the airline's latest boilerplate response that "this is a fast moving situation, and we recommend all customers check for the latest on their flight on ba.com."