India – Singapore air bubble paves way for connectivity to Singapore

After signing up with Mauritius and Finland for the air bubble agreement, the Indian government has signed up for the air bubble agreement with Singapore! The announcement came within days of meeting between India’s foreign minister with his counterpart from Singapore. Singapore thus becomes the 31st country with which India has an air bubble agreement.

The international travel across the world has changed rapidly from the start of the pandemic and every country has used the “air bubble” term differently.  As for Singapore – where things have moved from nearly blacklisting India to opening Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights to India. The VTL flights allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter Singapore quarantine-free. Interestingly, Singapore will also have non VTL flights to India, where passengers travelling on these flights will have to be quarantined to enter Singapore.

Singapore Airlines and Scoot have announced flights to India which operate across multiple destinations in the country and are a mix of both VTL and non-VTL flights.

Singapore airlines press release on November 23, 2021, listed out the flights which will operate to India, both as part of VTL and non-VTL. This was followed up by Scoot – the low-cost airline which is owned by SIA group. Both Singapore Airlines and Scoot will start flights on November 29, 2021.

Scoot will resume its Singapore-Hyderabad service with four-times weekly flights effective 29 November 2021, operated by Scoot’s A320 aircraft. Scoot will also resume its Singapore-Tiruchirappalli service with three-times weekly flights effective 2 December 2021, increasing to five-times weekly from 2 January 2022. These flights will be operated by Scoot’s A320neo aircraft. Starting January 2022, Scoot will also resume its Singapore-Amritsar service with five-times weekly flights operated by Scoot’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners. All the flights will be operated as non-Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights.

Scoot will operate flights to Amritsar, starting January 31,2022, to Hyderabad – the airline will operate 18 flights till the end of the year and to Trichy – the airline will operate 14 flights in December. The details of flights to be operated by Scoot are available on the airline’s schedule page.

Singapore Airlines will launch daily VTL services from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. The airline will also launch non-VTL services from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kochi. Passengers on these flights will have a mandatory seven day quarantine in Singapore.  

The flight details are as below

What if you have to take a non-VTL flight?

Travellers who wish to enter Singapore must obtain prior approval from relevant authorities.

o Short-term visitors are not allowed to enter Singapore unless they hold a valid approval letter of entry from the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority.

o Long-Term Pass and In-Principle Approval (IPA) holders must obtain permission for entry from the relevant agencies before they travel to Singapore.

o Please refer to https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/ for more details

  • Travellers may need to apply for a visa prior to travel. Please check visa details here:
  • For travellers from India, Category (II) Travel Health Control Measures will apply.
  • Travellers must undergo a professionally administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) or

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test within two days of the flight departure. All pre-departure test result memos must state:

o Traveller’s name
o Either date of birth or passport number as stated in the passport
o Date and time of test along with the name of the testing institution o Negative test result in English

  • A 7-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) (to be observed at the traveller’s declared place of accommodation) will be sent to the email address provided by the traveller. The SHN takes effect immediately on the day of its issuance.
  • Travellers with 14-day travel history to Category (II) countries may commute using their own private transport, taxis or private hire cars. The use of public transport, e.g. trains or buses, is prohibited.
  • Travellers will be scheduled to take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (“PCR test”) before the end of the SHN. The result of the test will be communicated via a call, email, or SMS about 24 hours from when the test was administered. Travellers with Singpass may also view their results via the HealthHub App.

Network Thoughts

This indicates that India will continue to ban scheduled commercial international services even in December, except for air bubble arrangements. India – like many other countries is negotiating on a case-to-case basis by taking a holistic view of who is allowed, who is not instead of putting the traffic out on platter for everyone!

To enter Singapore as part of VTL arrangement, a traveler must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to travel, arrive in Singapore on a dedicated VTL flight and have adequate insurance to cover COVID-19 treatment in Singapore. These are one of the many requirements and for travelers reading this, it will be apt to get in touch with the airline and high commission of Singapore for details related to flights, visa and approvals. More details about entry into Singapore will be available on the dedicated site of Singapore government and Singapore Airlines has a dedicated page for details for these flights

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