UPDATE, August 4, 2021: It seems like change is on the horizon. Here's insider news that might just give us hope for what's to come, courtesy of industry publication Australian Aviation. On July 28, it was reported that a second Singapore Airlines A380 has left the Alice Springs 'boneyard' and is on its way to Sydney before landing in Singapore. This marks the first time it's seen back at Changi Airport since leaving for storage in Australia in April last year.
Have you ever wondered where the commercial planes are "stored" since international travel came to a halt last year? For those unfamiliar with aviation terms, an aircraft boneyard (or graveyard) is exactly what it sounds like. It's a storage area for aircraft that are retired from service – or in this case, where grounded aircraft wait out the pandemic.
While we're all waiting patiently for an official announcement from the government that vaccinated Singapore residents can travel without having to serve a 14-day stay home notice (SHN) upon returning, this could be a good sign. It might just mean that Singapore Airlines is potentially preparing to reintroduce some Airbus A380s into passenger service as Singapore's borders progressively reopen from September.
Granted, everything is still up in the air. However, we think this is a massively hopeful sign that air travel is very slowly returning to normal, especially with more Singaporeans getting fully vaccinated.
UPDATE, July 29, 2021: Dreaming of getting on a plane and travelling again? After early September, you might soon be able to – if you're vaccinated, that is. Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced in Parliament on Monday that after early September, Singapore will be able to reopen borders for vaccinated persons to travel without having to serve a 14-day stay home notice (SHN) upon returning, as Singapore reopens its borders. This is in line with the speculations in March that personal travel will likely return for the second half of this year.
The measures will start by first establishing travel corridors with countries or regions that have managed Covid-19 well and where infections are under control. With these arrangements, those who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel without having to serve a 14-day SHN in a hotel upon returning. Depending on the risk level of the country they visit, the SHN will either be replaced with a rigorous testing regimen, or shortened to a 7-day SHN at home.
It seems that more people are opening up to the idea of international travel, too. According to Finder's updated travel index, 43.85 percent of Singaporeans say they plan to travel in the next three months, up from 20.26 percent in the June survey. Most of which are people aged 18 to 24.
Current curbs on activities such as dining in restaurants or going to gyms could also be eased as soon as early August for those who are fully vaccinated – so that's something we can all look forward to. After all, Singapore expects about 80 percent of its population to be fully vaccinated by around early September.
Need ideas on where to go once travel restrictions are lifted? Check out the Time Out Singapore team's travel wishlist. Or escape the heat at these cold-weather destinations near Singapore.
March 11, 2021: Major news for those suffering from a serious case of wanderlust! A little birdie's told us that personal travel will likely return from the second half of this year, according to an interview by The Straits Times with Mr Alexandre de Juniac, director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Alexandre says that there will likely be a change in the air travel landscape after May or June this year – and that IATA is already working with states to design and plan protocols and road maps for the reopening of borders. Amongst which, IATA's Travel Pass, a mobile health verification app that electronically keeps records of a traveller's vaccination history and Covid-19 test results for cross-border safety checks.
And the world's first airline to officially announce that it will start using IATA's Travel Pass in a trial? Our very own Singapore Airlines, which will begin with passengers flying from Singapore to London from March 15 to 28. If this proves a success, the app could be rolled out globally.
Beginning March 15, passengers on that route using Apple iOS-enabled phones will be able to download the Travel Pass app and create a digital identification with their photo and passport information. All they have to do is submit flight information and book a Covid-19 test at one of seven participating clinics in Singapore. The test results can then be viewed directly on the app.
This makes travelling easier because check-in staff at Changi Airport can verify their status via the app, speeding up the check-in process. However, travellers will still need to carry a physical copy of their health certificate issued by the relevant clinics.
It's been a year since most of us have been on our last vacation, and Singaporeans have been itching to travel. This begs the question: once travel kickstarts, will you jump on the first opportunity to go on a holiday – or will you wait until the situation calms down?