Singapore expands VTLs to Malaysia, Sweden, Finland


Malaysia Airlines aircraft are parked on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on September 7, 2020.

Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Quarantine-free travel between Singapore and neighboring Malaysia will begin on November 29 for vaccinated travelers, the two countries announced on Monday.

Sweden and Finland will also be included in Singapore’s so-called “vaccinated travel routes” from November 29, the Ministry of Health announced separately in a press release on Monday.

Instead of quarantining, vaccinated travelers from these countries will run Covid-19 tests to make sure they are not infected with the coronavirus.

The Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia said in a joint statement that the border restrictions imposed by Covid have separated families in both countries for many months.

“It is time to gradually resume cross-border travel between the two countries in a safe manner,” said the two heads of state and government.

Singapore has already introduced vaccinated itineraries with at least 12 nations including Australia, the UK and the United States. The city-state will begin its vaccinated itinerary joint arrangements with South Korea on November 15.

“We are also in talks with our other ASEAN neighbors to reconnect with them and we will make further announcements when we are ready,” Transport Minister S. Iswaran told reporters on Monday during a virtual briefing. “We are also in discussion with our partners in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.”

The Malaysia itinerary will only operate between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Before the pandemic disrupted travel, the flight route between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was one of the busiest international flight routes in the world.

The Southeast Asian countries have two land connections, but travelers crossing these borders are not eligible for quarantine-free travel.

The two nations look forward to re-establishing land link travel “in the near future,” the statement said, adding that there was “good progress in the ongoing detailed discussions” on reopening the land borders.

Singapore currently has a daily quota of 4,000 travelers allotted to meet arrivals from the 13 VTL countries including South Korea, Iswaran said.

“We will increase that number to 6,000 when we launch VTL to Malaysia, Finland and Sweden,” the minister said, adding that the number is “about 8% of total daily arrivals in Changi before Covid”.

“With the introduction of the VTLs, there was an encouraging upward momentum in passenger traffic. We expect this momentum to increase in the coming months as we expand VTL to more countries and public confidence in air travel recovers, ”he said.