India and Singapore in talks to restore commercial flights: Report

Currently, the Vande Bharat Mission allows only government charter relief aircraft from Singapore to convey passengers to India (VBM).

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Following the inauguration of a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) for quarantine-free travel, Singapore is in talks with Indian officials over a temporary bilateral arrangement that would allow commercial flights between the two countries to resume in part. Only commercial scheduled passenger flights can be designated as VTL flights, according to sources familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday. Travellers between India and Singapore will benefit from even a partial restart of commercial flights.

Singapore stated on Monday that it will establish a VTL with India as part of the country’s attempts to reopen its borders in a safe and controlled manner while also supporting people-to-people and economic linkages. Vaccinated Indian travelers with valid visas and entry clearances will be able to go to Singapore without having to go through quarantine.

Only Air India is responsible for repatriation at the moment, as part of the Vande Bharat programme. Singapore has announced that it would open its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) for India on November 29. Once the scheme is in place, vaccinated travellers will no longer require quarantine.

From both sides, there is a great unmet demand for travellers. Technically, under Singapore’s VTL agreement, which only allows for scheduled commercial flights, repatriation flights are not permissible. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is now in Singapore, where he is meeting with top leaders, and the resumption of communication was discussed.

Jaishankar met with Singapore’s transport minister yesterday to examine ways to improve travel between the two countries.

 

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