It's about to get a lot easier for foreigners stuck in Australia and New Zealand to get home.
Singapore Airlines has announced a new 'one-way transit' system which allows passengers travelling out of the two nations to transit through Changi Airport onto any flight operated by the Singapore Airlines group, which includes SilkAir and Scoot.
The one-way transit channel will allow those who wish to return home from Australia or New Zealand to do so in a COVID-19-safe manner.
Use of the transit system will be subject to a number of requirements and restrictions, including:
- Connections must be no longer than 48 hours
- Customers can only travel on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or Scoot flights both into and out of Singapore
- Customers must meet all departing and arriving government requirements and restrictions
The transit system will only operate for north-bound travellers, so people in Aotearoa and Australia can use the Singapore Airlines network to return to their home country. It won't be available for south-bound Kiwis overseas wanting to get home.
Singapore Airlines regional vice president for the south west Pacific region Philip Goh said the transit arrangement is in no way a resumption of normal international travel.
"The decision to allow customers travelling from Australia and New Zealand to destinations in the current SIA Group network via transiting through Singapore's Changi Airport is a small but welcome step in our journey towards recovery," Goh said.
"It is important to remember that government travel restrictions in Australia and New Zealand as well as in many other countries remain in place, and opening of limited one-way transit is not a sign that international travel is back to normal."
Customers must review all of the transit and travel requirements before booking, including whether they can legally depart Australia or New Zealand and whether they will be allowed entry at their country of arrival.
"We know that news of such transit channels will give people cause for excitement and hope. However, these feelings must be tempered at the current time with an understanding that we are still some time away from even considering being able to book an overseas holiday," Goh said.
In line with regulatory requirements, transit passengers will be kept apart from non-transit passengers at Singapore Changi Airport.
Facilities in the transit holding area will include food kiosks, vending machines, restrooms, a smoking room and a snooze corner. There will be no access to airport lounges and all transit hotels at Changi are currently closed.