First flight carrying vaccinated travelers from Germany to land in Singapore on September 8

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SINGAPORE (The Straits Times / Asia News Network): A pilot travel program to allow travelers vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Singapore without quarantine will take off as planned on Wednesday, September 8.

The first flight under Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), SQ325, is scheduled to depart Frankfurt, Germany at 10:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday (4:00 a.m. Wednesday, Singapore time) and land at Changi Airport at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Vaccinated travelers from these two countries will undergo up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests instead of quarantine, and will have to meet other conditions such as taking designated VTL flights to Singapore.

Singapore unilaterally opened the VTL to travelers from Brunei and Germany as a first step.

Brunei remains closed to leisure travel, but since Germany has been open to Republic travelers since October last year, this means Singapore residents can use the VTL program to travel without quarantine in one. or the other country.

Singapore Airlines (SIA), which will operate three VTL flights per week from Frankfurt and two VTL flights per week from Munich, told the Straits Times (ST) it has seen an increase in bookings. He declined to give further details, which he said were commercially sensitive.

A return economy class ticket to Frankfurt on SIA starts at around $ 950, although prices can double or even triple depending on the day of travel.

Business class and economy class tickets for the first VTL flight from Frankfurt to Singapore were still available when ST checked the SIA website on Tuesday afternoon.

German airline Lufthansa will also offer two VTL flights per week from Frankfurt to Singapore, starting September 16.

Travel booking platform Expedia said it has seen almost ten times as many Singapore residents looking for flights to Munich and Frankfurt, following VTL’s announcement on August 19.

But flight prices have remained stable, said Lavinia Rajaram, Expedia’s Asia-Pacific communications manager. She said they could increase if demand increases around the year-end vacation.

In anticipation of the growing demand for overseas travel, some travel agents have started working on tour packages to Germany.

Travel agent Chan Brothers Travel said it has launched an 11-day tour for VTL travel, with precautions such as a small group size of 20 travelers.

Expedia’s Rajaram said, however, that demand for travel to Singapore from Germany has not increased.

“This is an indication that German travelers may not be prepared for long-haul travel after completing their summer trips,” she said.

According to the Singapore Tourism Board, there were 381,000 visitor arrivals from Germany in 2019, the 15th largest source of arrivals.

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie of Sobie Aviation said he did not expect VTL to generate a large volume of inbound traffic. This is due to factors such as more attractive tourist options for German residents and the largely closure of Brunei’s borders.

Noting that there will only be 10 VTL flights per week from Germany and Brunei, Sobie said: “This is not going to shake things up in terms of traffic.

“This is a step in the right direction, but not significant and insufficient to initiate a recovery in the aviation and travel sectors in Singapore.”

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