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A passenger from Singapore Airlines flight SQ325 at the baggage hall of Changi Airport on September 8, 2021. ― AFP pic
A passenger from Singapore Airlines flight SQ325 at the baggage hall of Changi Airport on September 8, 2021. ― AFP pic

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SINGAPORE, Sept 9 — The first flight of 100 vaccinated passengers from Germany who need not serve quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19 on arrival touched down at Changi Airport yesterday (September 8).

The passengers on Singapore Airlines flight SQ325, which landed at 5.36pm, had all tested negative before their departure from Frankfurt Airport. They were given another polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test when they reached here.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) told TODAY that 57 passengers on the flight are short-term visitors, 15 are long-term pass holders, and 28 are Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

They are required to self-isolate until they have received a negative result for their on-arrival test, CAAS said.

They will have to take two more PCR tests on the third and seventh day after their arrival in lieu of serving quarantine, as required for passengers under the Vaccinated Travel Lane arrangement between Singapore and Germany.

Currently, there are only two of such travel lanes available for fully vaccinated travellers. Besides Germany, there is one with Brunei.

Applications for travellers began on September 1, the aviation authority said.

As of September 8, 1,412 travellers from Germany and 54 from Brunei have been issued a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter Singapore between September 8 and October 7.

A total of 621 passes were issued to short-term visitors from Germany, and 47 were issued to those from Brunei.

Another 791 travel passes went to long-term pass holders from Germany, and seven travel passes were issued to long-term pass holders from Brunei.

Fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not need to apply for a pass for entry here under the quarantine-free scheme.

Another flight of seven short-term visitors and five Singapore citizens and permanent residents departing from Brunei is due to arrive here on Thursday under the same travel lane scheme, CAAS said.

‘Happy to fly again’

Speaking to TODAY over the phone, one German passenger aboard flight SQ325, who wanted to be known only as Carmen, said that she greatly enjoyed her 13-hour flight and was confident that the stricter procedures and social distancing rules to guard against Covid-19 ensured the safety of passengers and crew.

The PCR tests conducted at both airports were also well-organised and speedy, she observed.

The 51-year-old dependant’s pass holder is awaiting the results of her on-arrival PCR test at home.

“At Frankfurt, you could tell that everyone was very happy to fly again, and it was as though everyone had someone waiting for them in Singapore,” she said.

At Changi Airport, the SQ325 passengers were seen picking up their baggage as usual at the baggage carousel, before they were ushered to the Changi Testing Facility located at the far end of Terminal 3 for their PCR tests. 

After the tests were done, they were then instructed to immediately take private transportation, taxi or a private-hire car to get to their declared accommodation, where they have to self-isolate until their test results come back negative.

They are not permitted to roam in the airport, especially Jewel Changi Airport, the retail and leisure complex.

There was some confusion because it was not clear where the pick-up point was for family members who drove to the airport to fetch arriving passengers. 

Juergen Hackenbroich, 56, who was initially instructed by airport staff members to wait near the Changi Testing Facility for his wife to arrive, was later escorted away by other airport workers who told him that the area near the facility was closed to the public.

Despite the confusion, he told TODAY about his excitement of reuniting with his wife, who was aboard SQ325, after a two-month separation.

His wife had flown back to their hometown in Cologne in July so that their oldest son could begin schooling there, but the couple had been gripped with uncertainty about whether she could return to Singapore when Covid-19 case numbers began rising both in Europe and Singapore due to the infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Hackenbroich, who has lived in Singapore for 13 years and works as the head of regional sales at a multinational company, said he was thankful that not only was she able to fly here, her return flight fortuitously became the inaugural flight back to Singapore under the Vaccinated Travel Lane.

Their son will continue with his studies in Germany in the meantime.

He said: “At first, I thought I might not be able to see my wife for a while, because employment pass holders and their dependants have been able to travel out of Singapore easily but are not guaranteed to be able to return, unlike Singapore citizens, permanent residents and some business travellers.

“So we are very lucky that this travel lane exists and I hope there are more to come.” ― TODAY

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