Singapore, India to resume daily flights under Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)
Singapore said on Sunday it has reached an agreement with India on resuming commercial flights under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) facility that will commence with six daily flights from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai on November 29.
The city state began discussions with Indian authorities last week for a temporary arrangement for partial resumption of commercial flights between the two sides following the launch of VTL for quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated travellers.
Singapore high commissioner Simon Wong tweeted that joint efforts by the lead agencies of both sides resulted in the resumption of commercial flights. Travellers from India can apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) from November 22, he said.
VTL travellers must be fully vaccinated and present a digital proof of vaccination. They must also take two Covid-19 tests – a pre-departure test within two days before departing for Singapore, and an on-arrival test at Changi airport, following which they have to remain self-isolated until the result is confirmed to be negative.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who was in Singapore last week, had tweeted on November 17 that he had discussed enhancing travel arrangements between the two countries at a meeting with Singapore’s transport minister S Iswaran.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement it “reached an agreement with the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India on the resumption of scheduled commercial passenger flights”.
“This will facilitate quarantine-free travel on the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) from India to Singapore, which will start from 29 November 2021 with six designated VTL flights daily from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai,” it said.
Airlines can also operate non-VTL flights between India and Singapore, and travellers on these flights will be subject to certain public health requirements, including a Covid-19 test two days before departure and serving a seven-day “Stay-Home Notice (SHN)” at the place of residence, a hotel or a serviced apartment.
The airlines will announce the schedules for VTL and non-VTL flights when ready.
People familiar with developments said the arrangement with Singapore will be on the lines of an air bubble. India currently has air bubble arrangements with 30 countries.
According to the CAAS statement, short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) to enter Singapore under the VTL. Applications for VTP for both categories of visitors from India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Finland and Sweden will open on November 22.
“CAAS understands that travellers are looking forward to the launch of the VTL and would like to assure travellers that there is no need to rush to apply for the VTP,” the statement said.
VTPs will initially be issued to those who intend to travel to Singapore from November 29, 2021 to January 21, 2022. Those who intend to enter Singapore after December 1 were encouraged to apply after November 24.
Short-term visitors were advised to obtain a visa after receiving VTP approval. They must also purchase travel insurance, with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 for Covid-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs. In Singapore, these visitors must also use the Trace Together app to facilitate contact tracing.
Currently, the only flights from Singapore allowed to carry passengers to India are flights under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). Since these are chartered repatriation flights, they could not be designated as VTL flights.
Singapore started the VTL mechanism on September 8 with two countries – Brunei and Germany. It now has VTL arrangements with 13 countries, including Australia, the UK and the US. VTLs for India, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sweden will become operational from November 29, and similar arrangements for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will begin from December 6.