By Charlotte Seet
Singapore Airlines, Scoot To Launch, Resume More Flights As VTLs Grow
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has left travel severely restricted in many countries, especially Singapore, where domestic air travel is not an option for airlines looking to maintain some semblance of a schedule. This has certainly left many people worldwide with pent-up excitement to book a ticket and fly towards anywhere that has its borders opened.
However, even the process of traveling itself has changed to become slightly more complicated, with various different requirements ranging from pre-departure tests, vaccination certificates and quarantine facilities necessary for travel throughout the world.
Fortunately, as global vaccination rates continue to trend upward and as different countries strategize to understand how best tolive with the virus, air travel has begun to open up a lot more under various schemes to make it as hassle-free for passengers as possible with those new restrictions.
On Saturday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore made the long-awaited announcement that Singapore would be extending the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme to nine additional countries in the coming weeks. Matching the timing with the upcoming holiday season, the extension of the program to certain countries includes highly anticipated destinations such as Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and the U.S.
Prior to the extension of the program to those nations, Singapore previously had earlier VTLs with only Brunei and Germany. As a current result, Singapore would eventually have VTLs with 11 countries by mid-November.
In rapid response to the VTLs announcement, flag carrier Singapore Airlines made the move to increase the flights designated by the airline for bringing vaccinated travelers into Singapore.
Starting in slightly more than a week’s time, these designated flights will include popular cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris and Rome.
As for Seoul, South Korea however, the VTL flight service will commence at a later date in mid-November.
The new launches will be a great addition for both Singapore Airlines and its passengers as currently, Singapore Airlines only operates VTL services from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, and also from Frankfurt and Munich, Germany.
“Singapore’s expansion of the VTL arrangements to 11 countries is great news for our customers, who can now reunite with their loved ones more easily or finally go on that overseas holiday,” said Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President of Commercial Lee Lik Hsin in a press release.
Following in its sister’s footsteps, low-cost carrier Scoot also made a similar announcement on resuming three-times-weekly non-stop flights between Singapore and Berlin.
Planned to operate as Scoot’s first designated VTL flight, TR735 will depart from Berlin Brandenburg Airport to Singapore’s Changi International Airport on Oct. 20.
“Scoot, the recently-crowned World’s Best Long Haul LCC, is delighted to be able to offer great-value quarantine-free travel with our new non-stop Singapore-Berlin flights. Quarantine-free travel is a welcome step toward the world we all fondly remember, where we were free to pursue our wanderlust, and enjoy new places, people and experiences with ease, ” Scoot Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson said in a press release.kll
In addition, Scoot also plans to increase the frequency for its non-VTL Singapore-Athens-Berlin return flights to four-times-weekly.
The low-cost carrier does not plan to just stop there, as it is currently seeking regulatory approval to operate VTL flights to South Korea as well, with a commencement date to be announced in due time.
After an extremely harsh close to two years with the pandemic, the Singapore Airlines Group has certainly suffered through massive losses despite sourcing for financial liquidity and having received government bailouts.
But the sun may finally be shining on the horizon for the Group as the VTL scheme has already shown tremendous outpouring support within hours of the announcement, with the Singapore Airlines website experiencing crashes within the day itself.
This type of pent-up demand has been seen before when the previous travel bubbles between Singapore and Hong Kong were announced, but the excitement kept getting dashed across for both the group and passengers as it kept getting postponed due to the rise in local cases.
The airline and passengers are hoping this will not be the case for the VTL scheme as it has been seeing some great success thus far with only two countries. Considering the addition of so many popular destinations in time for the long holiday season, the demand will certainly perk up and perhaps, the group might start seeing positive financial numbers soon.