Just two days before Christmas, the government of Singapore banned short-term visitors and transit passengers who had recently been in the UK. The decision, made effective at 11:59 Singapore Standard Time on Wednesday, December 23rd, left thousands of travelers stranded abroad, with limited options for getting home. Now, Singapore Airlines is reporting that it has received government approval to carry passengers from London Heathrow onwards to Sydney and Auckland via its Singapore Changi hub.
Government approval received
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore has lifted a ban on travelers transiting through Changi Airport from the UK. This comes just over a week after the government decided to block anyone from the UK due to a new coronavirus strain detected in the country.
Today, however, a Singapore Airlines spokesman confirmed that government approval to carry passengers has been obtained. The airline can now transport passengers from London’s Heathrow Airport onwards to Sydney and Auckland via Singapore Changi Airport – with special restrictions in place.
Passengers to remain onboard
The approval to operate services such as London-Singapore-Sydney will come with special limitations, however. Indeed, passengers connecting through to Australia will have to remain in the aircraft while on the ground in Singapore. According to Kiwi publication Stuff, this rule applies to transits through to Auckland as well.
While forward-looking flight data is limited at this time, we can see this apply to a recent flight with the Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 registered 9V-SMU on December 31st with FlightRadar24.com.
- The aircraft departed London at 10:20 for Singapore as SQ317 and landed in Singapore at 06:26 local time (January 1st).
- Following this 12 hour flight, passengers would have remained onboard the aircraft as it became SQ281 with service to Auckland.
- The flight then departed about two and a half hours later, at 08:54, and landed in Auckland at 23:04 local time, for a 2nd-leg flight time of about 10 hours.
“The health and safety of our staff and customers remain our utmost priority, and [Singapore Airlines] will continue to employ stringent health and safety measures on the ground and in the air to ensure the well-being of our passengers and crew,” -Singapore Airlines spokesperson via Sydney Morning Herald
Additionally, according FlightRadar24.com, these operations appear to already be live. An A350, with registration 9V-SMM, has been flying into Singapore from London since December 27th.
This policy of staying in the aircraft would mean that passengers remain onboard for roughly 24 hours, which is quite the journey to be confined to an economy class seat, with a mask on at all times, no doubt. Unfortunately, given the unpredictable and unprecedented times we are in, passengers likely have little choice but to endure this extremely long journey to get home.
What do you think of this flight resumption with the condition that transit passengers remain on the aircraft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.