Singapore, Australia discussing possible air travel bubble

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore and Australia are discussing an air travel bubble that would allow travel between the two countries without the need for quarantine, looking to reopen borders that have been mostly shut for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both countries have largely brought the virus under control, helped by international border closures, lockdowns and strict social-distancing rules.

Singapore is also discussing with Australia the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resumption of travel with priority for students and business travellers, Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We are working with Singapore at the moment, potentially for a bubble in July,” Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who is also transport minister, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

He said Australia would open more bubbles as countries roll out their vaccination programmes.

The Australian government did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for further details and comment.

Singapore, an Asian transportation hub, is keen to revive its travel and tourism industry. After bringing its COVID-19 infections under control, it has been unilaterally easing quarantine requirements for travellers from Australia and a handful of other countries, such as New Zealand and China.

A planned Singapore-Hong Kong air-travel bubble, which had been set to begin last November, stalled after Hong Kong saw a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Colin Packham in Canberra; Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard