Australia VTL: Perth & Western Australia delay reopening indefinitely amidst Omicron

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No joy for Perth-bound travellers, as Western Australia decides to postpone its reopening plans indefinitely.

In December last year, Western Australia (WA) announced that it would reopen its borders to international travellers from 5 February 2022. On this “locked in date” (their words, not mine), quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals would be replaced by on-arrival and post-arrival testing. 

But there’s some deeply disappointing news on this front: the authorities have now decided to postpone WA’s reopening indefinitely, citing the health risks posed by the Omicron variant.

Western Australia delays reopening

The original reopening plan called for the easing of interstate and international border restrictions from 12.01 a.m on 5 February 2022. International arrivals would instead be required to:

  • Complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure
  • Take a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to Western Australia
  • Take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival in Western Australia and on Day 6 (the day of arrival is counted as Day 0)

However, WA’s Premier Mark McGowan has now delayed the state’s reopening, with a new date “considered over the next month”. 

In his words:

I understand exactly what the means for many people who had been hoping to reunite without any restrictions, but from February 5 there are enhanced compassionate exemptions.

If we proceeded with the original plan, we would be deliberately ceding thousands upon thousands of COVID cases into WA and at this point in time that is not what I am going to do.

Especially when the science says we need to boost third doses and so many young children still need to get their vaccine. It would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now, I can’t do it.

The WA Premier had previously stated that Omicron would not delay the reopening and the date was locked in “barring some unforeseen emergency or catastrophe which we cannot predict”.

It’s surreal to think that just a few days ago, the talk was about bringing forward WA’s reopening, given that the state had ht 88% vaccinations and Omicron was already spreading within the community. 

Some travel conditions will change on 5 February 2022, such as expanding the list of people exempt from the hard border. They will still be required to isolate for 14 days on arrival:

  • Returning West Australians with strong recent connections with WA
  • Returning West Australians with family connections in WA
  • Compassionate grounds including funerals and palliative care or terminally ill visitation
  • People entering for urgent or essential medical treatment
  • People entering WA for national or state security reasons
  • People with specialist skills
  • Commonwealth and state officials, members of parliament, and diplomats
  • Other extraordinary circumstances approved by the Chief Health Officer or Police Commissioner

What to do if you have a flight booking

This will be the third change for SIA’s Perth schedule in less than a week

Singapore Airlines must be experiencing whiplash from all these changes, having just last week pushed back its Perth VTL flights to 1 March 2022, before reverting them to 5 February 2022. Now it’s going to have to reaccommodate travellers once again- for some, the third time in less than a week!

⚠️ Update from Singapore Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines (SIA) will not begin ‘For Eligible Passengers Only’ (FEPO) flights from Singapore to Perth from 5 February 2022 as previously announced, after the Western Australian authorities delayed the reopening of the state’s borders.
  • SIA remains guided by Western Australia’s regulations, and we will adjust our flights accordingly. We would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.
  • Please note that SIA’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights from Perth to Singapore are unaffected, and will start as planned on 5 February 2022.
  • Affected SIA customers who booked directly with us may use our Assistance Request Form to seek a refund of the unused portion of their ticket, if eligible.  Those who require urgent assistance may reach out to their local Singapore Airlines reservation office. For bookings made through a travel agency or partner airline, customers should contact them directly for assistance.

The airline’s complimentary rebooking policy applies to all ticket issued by 31 March 2022, so there won’t be any issues changing your flight to a future date (although a fare difference may apply). However, passengers will also be able to request a full refund, given this latest turn of events. 

If you made your booking directly with Singapore Airlines, you can request a refund by filling up an Assistance Request Form. Otherwise, you should get in touch with the travel agency or partner airline who issued your ticket. 

Singapore Airlines is still intending to run VTL flights from Perth starting 5 February 2022 as follows. 

FlightsDays
SQ224
SMTWTFS
PER
0640
SIN
1155
SQ216
SMTWTFS
PER
1110
SIN
1620
    
SQ214
SMTWTFS
PER
1645
SIN
2200
✔ ✔ ✔ 

Where can you travel in Australia?

While Western Australia has blinked with its reopening, fully vaccinated Singapore citizens can still travel quarantine free to:

  • ACT
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland (from 22 January)
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria

Non-stop flights from Singapore are available to Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney. 

Conclusion

Perth Airport

Western Australia has delayed its reopening indefinitely, which effectively takes its global isolation past the two-year mark. It’s bitterly disappointing for those looking forward to reuniting with friends and family, and to make matters worse, there’s no concrete target (e.g. booster rates) for when reopening will happen. 

Perth Airport was expecting 80,000 interstate and international arrivals to land in the first two weeks of reopening. It’s going to remain quiet for some time yet. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Felle

Shame that Western Australia is run by lunatics and conservatives! We have a Krisflyer redemption and wonder if Singapore Airlines would waive the cancellation and miles redeposit fees?

Zaos

Are there travel curbs intra-Australia?

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