Singapore Airlines has celebrated the reopening of Australia’s international borders, and welcomed the Australian government’s announcement to introduce a quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore from 21 November.
The airline also confirmed on Monday that it completed both first inbound flights to Sydney and Melbourne as well as the first outbound flight from Sydney, following the easing of border restrictions on Monday morning.
According to the airline, flight SQ221, performed by SIA’s newest Airbus A350-900 registration 9V-SHV, landed in Sydney at 5:15am and arrived at the gate at 5:21am.
It was the first planeload of passengers to arrive in Sydney that weren’t immediately sent into two weeks mandatory quarantine in over 20 months.
At 9:05am, another Airbus A350, registration 9V-SHH, pushed back from the gate to become the first international flight to depart from Australia, without requiring passengers to seek an exemption to leave the country.
Down in Melbourne, a third SIA A350, registration 9V-SHA performing flight SQ237, touched down at Melbourne Tullamarine 10:10am, and was welcomed by a water cannon salute in honour of being the first uncapped flight from overseas to land in Victoria since the caps were introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.
In total, Singapore will bring just under 300 Australians back home today alone, with 2,500 expected to arrive in Sydney and Melbourne on Singapore flights by the end of the week.
According to the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, a total of 1,500 Australians will touch down on home soil on Monday alone, with around 50,000 uncapped seats available on commercial flights into the country per week moving forward.
The first passengers to land at Sydney in the early hours this morning were reportedly welcomed at the arrivals gate with bouquets of native flowers and Tim Tams.
“It has been wonderful to see families reunited and loved ones embracing at the airport, a sign of hope for all”, said Singapore Airlines regional vice president Louis Arul.
“The reopening of Australia’s borders for fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible non-citizens is a welcome first step on Australia’s road to recovery and re-establishing connections with the world.”
It comes as the Australian government confirmed it would reciprocate Singapore’s previously announced one-way quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia.
From 21 November, fully-vaccinated non-Australian travellers from Singapore will be allowed to enter Australia without undergoing any form of quarantine, which will see Australia’s first tourists return to the country in more than 2o months.
“Next week we look forward to starting the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Australia and Singapore, which will allow Australians to enter Singapore without the need to quarantine,” Arul said.
“The launch of the VTL from 8 November, while unilateral for the first few weeks, will allow many more Australians the opportunity to reunite with family and friends in Singapore, as well as travel more freely across SIA’s VTL network of 20 destinations.”
“We welcome the Prime Minister of Australia’s announcement that Singapore citizens will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Australia from 21 November,” Arul added.
“This timely announcement will let loved ones in both countries reunite during the holiday season and provide travellers with many more holiday options.
“It will also support Australia’s economic recovery with the return of international students from Singapore as well as other important economic visa holders.”
Arul said that Monday’s international reopening was a “welcome step in Australia’s recovery”.
“Our commitment to Australia has remained steadfast throughout the pandemic and our schedules will continue to support the growth in demand that will come from these announcements,” he said.
“With 31 weekly flights between Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore, as well as the ability to be nimble in deploying capacity should demand warrant, we will continue to provide a range of travel options for customers to and from Australia.
“We also remain committed to working with all levels of government to support the further easing of restrictions when appropriate and supporting more Australians to return home or travel overseas.”