- Özgür Töre
The Governments of Malaysia and Singapore will open up cross border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries through the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) scheme.
Border lockdowns were imposed in March. The RGL scheme requires eligible travelers to abide by the prevailing Covid-19 prevention and public health measures mutually agreed upon by both countries, which includes undergoing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests.
The governments will have further discussions on restoring travel for other groups.
“It will be for a limited group of people for now, and done in a controlled manner,” Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a Facebook post. “I seek the understanding and patience of Singaporeans that we are some time away from full and open travel, even to Malaysia.”
Applications by eligible travelers can be submitted by Aug. 10, and they have to abide by public health measures in both countries.
Airlines get ready to fly between the two countries. A one-hour flight between Singapore and the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur is one of world’s busiest international routes.
CEO of AirAsia Group, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said: “Both countries have performed exceptionally well in keeping the spread of Covid-19 in check especially amongst the local populations. Both the Governments and the people of Malaysia and Singapore deserve a pat on the back for their relentless efforts and strict discipline in breaking the Covid-19 chain.
“The RGL might only be the first step but certainly is most important as both countries start to revive the economy. We look forward to the formation of more ‘travel bubbles’ and ‘green lanes’ between countries with low infection rates or active cases, and proven pandemic curbing systems. AirAsia is thoroughly committed towards resuming air connectivity and thus reviving economic activities in the region.
“The aviation sector had contributed 4% to the global GDP, supporting over 65 million jobs. The tourism industry, on the other hand, made up 10% of the world GDP and helped create 1 in every 10 jobs around the world. The global pandemic has caused both sectors to come to a grinding halt and it’s pertinent that countries and governments work hand in hand with the industry players to ensure that we are back on our feet again.”
Following the RGL announcement, AirAsia is gearing up for the resumption of flights between the two countries, including the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route that is touted to be the world’s busiest. This will be followed by other international destinations, subject to approval from the authorities.
For a start, AirAsia will launch daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and one weekly flight each between Singapore and Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Ipoh. These flights are scheduled for the week of 17 August 2020, subject to further announcements by the Governments.