Government AffairsFinland, Sweden and Malaysia are the latest three to join Singapore's rapidly expanding VTL scheme.

Singapore-Malaysia VTL flights see 350% spike in seat capacity

Malaysia only offers VTL flights now, although land travel could happen in the "near future".
Malaysia only offers VTL flights now, although land travel could happen in the "near future". Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Rat0007

In a course of about a month since early October, Singapore added 14 countries to its rapidly growing Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) list, including Malaysia, Sweden and Finland.

This takes the number of VTLs with EU countries to seven, with the rest coming across APAC, UK and US. The daily quota into Singapore has also increased from 4,000 to 6,000 travellers starting 29 November.

Fully-vaccinated travellers are able to travel between Singapore and these destinations without quarantine, but must show proof of negative PCR tests twice: two days before departure, and upon arrival.

Malaysia stands out in this string of border re-openings, as pre-pandemic, Singapore was the top generating market, with 10.1 million arrivals for 2019. Even in pandemic-riddled 2020, this was still true — with 1.5 million arrivals from Singapore, followed by 711,723 from Indonesia and 405,149 from China.

Numbers prove this trend as well: FCM observed "a 350% upward projection in seat capacity for the week of 29 November to 5 December, representing some 40,000 seats. Prior to this, total seat capacity between the Singapore-Malaysia route was low and almost flat for most of the last 18 months," said Joanne Taylor, Senior Director, FCM Consulting Asia.

While interstate travel resumed from 11 October for Malaysia locals who are fully vaccinated, travel industry players continued rallying for international openings, especially to Singapore.

The appointment of Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin, Director of Tourism Malaysia, Singapore since August 2021 comes as an especially apt time in restoring tourist traffic from Singapore to Malaysia once borders are open.

At the start, six VTL flights will ply the Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport route from 29 November. Applications begin 22 November, with more details to come. However, the reopening only applies to air transfers, and not cross borders via the Causeway of Second Link — although land travel could happen in the "near future" said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a 8 November Facebook post.

Travellers from Sweden and Finland will be able to apply for VTL travel also from 22 November, for travel starting 29 November. Both countries are currently already welcoming travellers from Singapore.

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