There has been a lot of talk of travel bubbles in Asia, but with few results so far. The latest possibility is between Singapore and Australia, with a travel bubble possible as early as July. There is a lot of work to do, but Singapore Airlines at least is committed to re-starting travel.
The next travel bubble
Following on from the news that Australia and New Zealand will start allowing quarantine-free travel from April 19th, there is hope that Singapore and Australia could be the next. Possibly within a few months.
The Australian government has been looking at a possible next travel bubble with Singapore since at least March. Australia’s Deputy PM, Michael McCormack, told the ABC’s Insiders program in March:
“We’re working with Singapore at the moment, potentially for a bubble in July. These are positive signs, and as the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia but in other countries, we will reopen more bubbles.”
This now gets one step closer, with commitment from Singapore Airlines. The airline’s spokesperson, Karl Schubert, explained to Simple Flying:
“Singapore Airlines remains committed to working with the Singapore and Australian governments to support and progress the safe re-start of travel between the two countries. We are continually monitoring travel demand and remain nimble and flexible in our ability to deploy capacity to meet demand as it returns to the market.”
Several airlines to benefit
Qantas and Singapore Airlines dominate travel between Australia and Singapore. In 2019, they together had a 78.3% market share. Jetstar, Scoot, Silk Air, Emirates, and British Airways also operated nonstop services between Singapore and Australia.
Of the two, Singapore Airlines had the largest share, with 59.5% of the market. The significance of these routes for the airline was demonstrated in March. Its share price rose 5.47% on the news of discussions between the two governments. Qantas, of course, will benefit too. Especially as its international fleet has been almost entirely grounded.
Concern from airlines
Despite positive indications from the government and Singapore Airlines, difficulties remain. Airlines are concerned about the border requirements and how much notice they will have over changes.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) represents airlines flying into Australia. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, its executive director Barry Abrams explained the concerns that airlines have. He said:
“There’s certainly frustration around not having a clearer framework as to how we can go about reopening borders. There’s a lot of benefits in giving some certainty around when travel to other countries might be able to proceed again.”
The IATA Travel pass could provide a way forward. Singapore’s government will accept this as verification of a negative COVID test before travel. IATA has said it is keen to work with the Australian government.
What do you think about the possibility of further travel bubbles with Australia? Will airlines be able to make this work? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.