Lately, the new variant of COVID-19, known as Omicron has greatly disrupted aviation. Now, it has hit its next target- Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane, which allows quarantine-free travel between several countries. Earlier this Wednesday, it was stated in a press release that all new ticket bookings for the travel lanes will not be accepted.
What is the VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lane)?
Earlier this year, Singapore launched Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) in several countries. This VTL allows fully vaccinated individuals to travel on specific flights to selected countries without serving quarantine. Every passenger travelling on the VTL must have 2 negative pre-departure tests and a negative test every day at the destination.
Countries part of the VTL includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, Netherlands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Every passenger travelling on the VTL must have 2 negative pre-departure tests and a negative test every day at the destination. Airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Jetstar and many more operate these flights.
A few weeks ago, due to the new Omicron variant, VTL flights to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been put on hold. However, it seems like these measures were not enough.
Suspension of VTL flight bookings
Singapore has been reporting numerous cases of the new Omicron variant every day, with over 60 of them from overseas travellers and Singaporeans returning back to Singapore. Owing to this, they have decided today to suspend all their VTL flight bookings, effective 22 December 2021 at 1159 HRS local time. Passengers who have previously purchased tickets on their VTL flights will still continue with their flights as per usual. Since the measure is not effective yet, there is still a few hours for people to book their VTL flights prior to closure. This new measure will be effective until January 20th next year. This will impact airlines a lot as they will be losing profit from this VTL scheme.