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Singapore Airlines restarting Darwin flights from 29 March

Singapore Airlines is launching Darwin flights next month, and it's the only city in Australia with no arrival testing for international travellers.

Singapore Airlines is continuing to build up its flight network to and from Australia following a general opening of the country to fully vaccinated foreign travellers earlier this month, with Darwin set to become the seventh city on the airline’s network to pick up non-stop flights from Changi.

From 29th March 2022, three times weekly flights will link Singapore and the Northern Territory capital, joining twice weekly services on the route operated by low-cost carrier Jetstar.

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Flights will use two-class Boeing 737-800s, with an increase to five times weekly operation planned from June 2022. All Darwin – Singapore services will operate as designated Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) options, for quarantine-free arrival in the Lion City.

The Northern Territory is also the only entry point in Australia at the time of writing where the arrival experience is truly pre-COVID, with no testing or isolation imposed and no state forms to complete.

Only a pre-departure test and declaration prior to travel is required if you’re fully vaccinated.

Singapore Airlines will use its Boeing 737-800 on Darwin flights. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

SIA last flew regular passenger flights to Darwin under its own branding in the late 1990s, however services were operated by SilkAir between 2015 and 2020.

Those were suspended due to the pandemic, and are effectively being restarted as Singapore Airlines flights since SilkAir was merged into the mainline operation last year.

SIA has also been operating occasional Darwin charters recently for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), using Airbus A350s.

The schedule

Singapore Airlines will launch Boeing 737-800 services to and from Darwin three times per week starting on 29th March 2022, a day after also starting Cairns flights using the same aircraft type.

All SQ252 flights in the Darwin – Singapore direction will operate as designated VTL services.

29th March 2022 – 31st May 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ251
737-800
SIN
08:30
DRW

14:45
SQ252
737-800

VTL
DRW
15:45
SIN

19:00

From June through to the end of the published schedule in late October 2022, service will be expanded to five times weekly.

1st June 2022 – 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ251
737-800
SIN
08:30
DRW

14:45
SQ252
737-800

VTL
DRW
15:45
SIN

19:00

Redemption rates

Here are the redemption rates you’ll pay when flying on an SIA flight between Singapore and Darwin.

KrisFlyer Redemption Rates
Darwin to/from Singapore
  Saver
(one way)
Advantage
(one way)
Economy 20,000
37,000
Business 36,500
65,000

No on-arrival testing

The Northern Territory is the only state you can currently travel to internationally (e.g. from Singapore) which does not impose any on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers.

The state removed its on-arrival and post-arrival ART tests in late January, and more recently scrapped its border entry form too, so it’s as simple a journey as you can get to Australia at the moment.

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Only a pre-departure PCR or ART test is required before leaving, under Australia’s Commonwealth rules for international arrivals.

You will also need to complete the Digital Passenger Declaration within 72 hours of departure.

Here’s how the testing side works, and how it stacks up against the other Australian states, each of which has its own rules for testing once you’ve landed.

COVID-19 Testing when travelling to Australia

Pre-departure

All travellers entering Australia from overseas will have to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, in addition to providing evidence of full vaccination, with the two options being:

  • A PCR test within three days of departure; or
  • An ART test within 24 hours of departure

Timing relates to the scheduled departure time of your flight to Australia (or your first flight to Australia if you are making a connecting journey like London – Singapore – Sydney).

Those aged 4 or below at the time of check-in are exempt from pre-departure testing when travelling internationally to Australia.

  Full details of Australia PDT requirements

On-arrival

On-arrival COVID-19 testing varies based on which Australian state you are entering from overseas, as shown in the following table.

State / City On-arrival testing
Test Type Test Deadline
New South Wales
Sydney
ART Within 24 hours
Northern Territory
Darwin
  None
Queensland
Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast
ART Within 24 hours
South Australia
Adelaide
PCR Within 24 hours
Victoria
Melbourne
ART Within 24 hours
Western Australia
Perth*
ART Within 12 hours

* From 3rd March 2022

In all cases you must self-isolate at home or in suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel room) until a negative test result is received, with the exception of South Australia, where you only need to isolate until your PCR test is taken.

What about the ACT and Tasmania?

There are currently no international flights to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or Tasmania, so you will have to fly to another city (probably Melbourne or Sydney), then follow the relevant state entry requirements for testing and isolation, then take a domestic flight to Canberra or Tasmania, with no further testing required.

If you did not undergo an on-arrival test in a different state before travelling to the ACT (e.g. in Darwin), you must take an ART test on arrival there, within 24 hours.

As you can see, aside from the pre-departure test there is no further testing when flying from Singapore to Darwin as a fully vaccinated traveller.

You can then travel interstate from the Northern Territory (NT) to New South Wales, South Australia or Tasmania with no additional tests, if you wish.

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However, if you travel interstate to the following states during your trip, you may be subject to on-arrival testing:

  • NT to the ACT: On-arrival ART test within 24 hours if you have been overseas in the last 7 days*
  • NT to Queensland: On-arrival ART test within 24 hours if you have been overseas in the last 14 days*
  • NT to Victoria: On-arrival ART test within 24 hours if you have been overseas in the last 14 days*
  • NT to Western Australia: On-arrival ART test within 12 hours for all travellers (interstate and international)

* Unless you took an on-arrival test in a different state

Note that Western Australia is reopening its borders to both interstate and international travellers only from 3rd March 2022.

Testing costs

Here are the estimated testing costs for a round-trip from Singapore to Darwin and back, for those taking a VTL trip.

🇦🇺 VTL
Singapore Darwin
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
SG pre-departure (ART)* From S$21
Darwin pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
SG arrival (ART) S$15
Total From ~S$66

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

Thanks to a recently relaxed VTL testing process in Singapore earlier this month, additional costs for a Northern Territory trip should now be around S$70 per traveller on the testing side, one of the more competitive options on Singapore’s quarantine-free list.

Summary

Darwin will become SIA’s seventh Australian route back on the roster post-COVID with passenger flights, including VTL services on the way back to Singapore.

Including Gold Coast with Scoot, there are eight Aussie cities on offer with the SIA Group.

Testing costs are low thanks to no on-arrival ART or PCR test, while the recent scrapping of the state’s border entry form makes travel to this part of the world almost pre-COVID-like, with the exception of the pre-departure test in Singapore.

You can even travel on to many Australian states like New South Wales without any additional testing, on a multi-centre trip.

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1 comment

  1. This pretty much is still just as inconvenient as the PCR test it had before then because they dont test at the airport and you don’t get in until 7pm at night, which means you probably wont get out of the airport and customs till 8pm and most testing centres will be closed by that time so you will still need to isolate until you can get into a testing centre the next day, requiring private transport and a hotel for the night that allows for iso.

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