Australia and Singapore working towards travel bubble

Singapore and Australia will work towards putting in place an air travel bubble between the two countries, their prime ministers said on Thursday, after more than a year of travel disruption caused by the pandemic.

"We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready," Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong told a joint news conference with visiting Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Singapore had in March said the two nations were discussing plans for quarantine-free travel.

Both Singapore and Australia have avoided the severe coronavirus outbreaks suffered by many counties, with total cases at just over 62,000 and 30,000 respectively.

Lee said infrastructure and processes for resuming travel needed to be put in place, starting with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates.

"When all preparations are ready, then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides," he said.

Morrison is the first foreign leader to make an official visit to the city-state since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. He stopped in Singapore on his way to Britain for the G7 Leaders' Summit.

The leaders' discussions also included a potential fintech bridge and exploration of a green economy agreement.

Morrison said he welcomed the countries working together to put the systems in place to enable a bubble to emerge between them.

However, he said: "there is still some time before we reach that milestone."