Singapore’s transport minister has revealed plans to negotiate air travel bubbles with selected countries or regions which could open the door to so-called “safe nations” such as Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
Ong Ye Kung unveiled the plan this week, aimed at reviving some airline routes and allowing the first international leisure travelers back onto Singapore’s shores.
The air travel bubbles are seen as a significant step forward after the Singapore government recently launched a reciprocal green lane with Japan allowing for essential business travel between the two countries.
It would also come as a welcome boost for Singapore’s struggling IR operators with both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa having reported significant losses in 2Q20. Both rely heavily on international guests.
If approved, the air travel bubbles would be open only to travelers from nations with low infection rates, could be subject to daily quotas and would include various COVID-19 testing requirements.
Singapore has already stated that it is open to receiving travelers from Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei but is keen to add more to such air travel bubbles, with Hong Kong among those named.
“We have responded positively. We hope to commence discussions with Hong Kong and other partners soon,” Ong said, adding that Singapore hoped to welcome visitors from the likes of Australia and Vietnam soon.
“Although the other countries are not ready to lift their restrictions now, Singapore can be top of mind when they are ready eventually.
“Purely from an infection risk point of view, the risk of a traveller from these places carrying the virus when they arrive at Changi Airport is no higher than that of a Singapore resident coming from Jurong or Sembawang (residential towns in Singapore).”
Marina Bay Sands recorded an Adjusted EBITDA loss of US$113 million in the three months to 30 June 2020 with net revenues falling 96.7% year-on-year, while RWS reported a loss of SG$163.3 million (US$119.1 million) on the back of a 99% decline in gaming revenue.