British Airways’ London-Sydney flights are still stopping over at Singapore, despite Changi Airport’s transit ban.
After negotiations with Singaporean authorities, the UK carrier has been granted permission to land for fuel, but without giving passengers the chance to temporarily leave the aircraft and stretch their legs, as before.
Changi serves as an important hub connecting Europe to the Asia-Pacific. In the lead-up to the ban’s implementation on Tuesday, it was unclear how repatriation services connecting the UK and the ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) region would be affected.
In 2003, 20 airlines flew the ‘Kangaroo Route’ between the UK and Australia. However, today this route is operated solely by Qantas and British Airways.
Qantas had already rerouted its daily Sydney-London service to include stopovers in Australian cities, instead of Singapore. The Australian carrier plans on suspending the outgoing service indefinitely by the week’s end, when government restrictions on outbound travel kick in.
As a result, the airline plans to ground all international flights.
However, Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority, at least for now, is permitting flights BA15 and BA16 to make “technical fuel stops”, which allow vessels to refuel and restock, without passengers disembarking.
The first two days of the ban saw transit passengers on board BA15 and BA16 subject to Singaporean quarantine requirements, and thus unable to pass through to their destination.
With plenty of British travellers and working-holiday makers remaining in Australia, this loophole could keep the Kangaroo Route alive for the immediate future. However, this depends on whether demand further dries up, and on any future cuts by BA.