A much anticipated travel bubble between Australia and Singapore could be on the horizon, despite some airlines – including Qantas – downplaying any possible corridors until a vaccine is available.
Singapore was set to launch a bubble with Hong Kong but given the latter’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the arrangement is said to be delayed until 2021.
But despite Australia only having a one-way bubble with New Zealand, Singapore Airlines are holding on to hope that a bubble could be launched prior to a vaccine being distributed.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, the airline’s executive vice president of commercial Lee Lik Hsin said that “bubbles” were still a key component of restarting international travel.
“[In] the example of the Singapore-Hong Kong bubble … the governments had discussed and come to the conclusion that it was a safe way to resume mass travel, predicated under certain conditions,” Mr Lee said.
Singapore Travel Bubble with Australia
“The preconditions changed because the infection rates in Hong Kong went up – that’s what’s setting the preconditions are for. As far as other countries go … we still look forward to it and we certainly hope Australians and the Australian government think the same.”
Along with Qatar, Singapore Airlines is one of the few international carriers that has continued to fly into Australia during the pandemic.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, while encouraging of future bubbles, said international passengers on board his airline will be required to have a vaccine prior to travel.
Mr Joyce said the rule will apply to anyone entering or leaving Australia on a Qantas flight, however some countries may be exempt from the requirement – such as New Zealand.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions, to say for international, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft,” Mr Joyce confirmed.
“We think for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.”