Quarantine Lifted on One of World’s Busiest Air-Travel Routes
November 08, 2021
Singapore and Malaysia will allow quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travelers flying between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, one of the world’s busiest air routes.
Starting Nov. 29, eligible travelers between the neighboring countries will be able to avoid quarantine or isolating at home by completing Covid-19 tests, according to a joint statement by the nations’ prime ministers on Monday.
“Singapore and Malaysia enjoy deep, warm and multi-faceted relations,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said. “This will help revive our economies, restore our people-to-people ties, and strengthen our bilateral relationship.”
Singapore accounts for the biggest chunk of Malaysia’s international tourists, with about 10 million arrivals in 2019, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture Malaysia. Arrivals slumped to 1.5 million in 2020. Singaporean tourists also bring in the most money, spending about 20.5 billion ringgit ($4.9 billion) in 2019.
About 1.2 million tourists traveled to Singapore from Malaysia in 2019, a figure that dropped to 153,650 last year, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Singapore-Kuala Lumpur was the world’s second-busiest international route in 2019, with 5.56 million seats available, data from flight-tracking firm OAG show. Thousands more people crossed land borders each day, mostly Malaysians working in factories in Singapore.
Singapore has recently opened so-called vaccinated travel lanes with several countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Germany. The city-state started allowing quarantine-free entry for visitors from Australia and Switzerland on Monday, when it also announced it would include Finland and Sweden from Nov. 29.
Monday’s agreement is a first vaccinated travel lane for Malaysia, which only last month lifted a ban on interstate trips. The country plans to reopen to foreign visitors in stages starting on Nov. 15 with a pilot international tourism bubble in Langkawi.
Malaysia is also in talks with Australia about reopening, state news agency Bernama reported on the weekend, citing Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
“The VTLs will allow travel as our two countries gradually reopen our borders responsibly by balancing the need to recover our economies while ensuring safety and health of our peoples from Covid-19,” Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in the statement Monday, as both sides said they’d made significant progress in vaccine rollouts.