Singapore’s national carrier has signalled it is eager for the city state to be the next country to open a travel bubble with Australia after the federal government approved quarantine-free travel with New Zealand from later this month.
But international airlines are warning they may not be ready to fly frequently into Australian when it does restart travel to more countries unless the government agrees to a consistent set of border rules now.
Singapore is a priority candidate to include in a travel bubble.
With confirmation on Tuesday that travellers will be able to cross the Tasman in both directions without going into quarantine from April 19, the federal government is working to establish similar travel bubble zones with countries in Asia and the Pacific that also have the coronavirus under control, with hopes Singapore could open as early as July.
Singapore Airlines spokesman Karl Schubert said on Wednesday the airline “remains committed to working with the Singapore and Australian governments to support and progress the safe re-start of travel between the two countries”.
Australians with government permission to leave the country can enter Singapore as long as they return a negative COVID-19 test result before departure and isolate on arrival until they return another negative test result, which is typically confirmed within a day.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) – which represents 33 major airlines that were operating into Australia before the pandemic including Singapore, Emirates and Cathay Pacific – said it hoped to meet the federal government in the coming weeks to push for a framework to guide when travel would open to other countries based around COVID-19 risks.
BARA executive director Barry Abrams said international airlines needed to understand when and how the border would be further relaxed otherwise they would struggle to redeploy aircraft, crew and other staff to Australia at short notice.
“There’s certainly frustration around not having a clearer framework as to how we can go about reopening borders,” Mr Abrams said. “There’s a lot of benefits in giving some certainty around when travel to other countries might be able to proceed again.”
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday provided the kind of framework airlines want to see Australia adopt, outlining a “traffic light” guide for when it her country would pause or suspend quarantine-free travel with Australia in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Mr Abrams said Australia should to decide now what pre- and post-flight testing and eventually what kind of vaccinations will be required for international travel, and that the government should adopt the International Air Transport Assocciation’s digital “vaccine passport”.
On Tuesday Singapore’s government said that from May 1 immigration official would accept the use of the IATA Travel Pass app for travellers to verify they had returned a negative COVID-19 test result in the 72 hours before their departure.
Ms Ardern flagged in a press conference on Tuesday that Australia opening quarantine-free travel with Singapore would trigger New Zealand to reassess the health risks of the new trans-Tasman bubble.
“If we have concerns that it opens up a risk, we’ll express that to Australia, and we may make changes based on it,” Ms Ardern said.
IATA a body which represents 290 airlines around the world accounting for 82 per cent of global air traffic, welcomed the Australia-New Zealand bubble as “a step in the right direction”.
“We are keen to engage and work with the Australian government in identifying risk-based measures that can form the basis for the government to feel comfortable in the gradual reopening of borders, relaxation of capacity caps and move away from quarantine to a vaccination/testing based entry regime,” IATA spokesman Albert Tjoeng said.
“This will help airlines plan and prepare for the opening of Australia’s international borders.”
Singapore was set to open a travel bubble with Hong Kong in late November but that was torpedoed at the last minute by an outbreak in the Chinese territory and has not been re-established.
eagerness for its home base to be the next country Australia opens a “travel bubble” with, as international airlines urge the Morrison government to start preparing a framework for overseas travel now or risk them being unprepared to fly here when it becomes possible.
Most Viewed in Business
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article