SINGAPORE: Budget carrier Jetstar Asia will resume partial operations to three key cities in Southeast Asia this week, with minimal onboard services and crew members decked out in masks and personal protective equipment.
From Tuesday (Apr 21), Jetstar Asia will operate five return services a week between Singapore and Manila, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Services on the "temporary network" are available only to citizens and permanent residents who are returning home or those with prior written approval for travel, said Jetstar in a media release on Monday.
The flights will operate until at least September, a Jetstar spokesperson told CNA separately, adding that the carrier is "helping to repatriate citizens and assist with freight in the region during this time".
Passenger flights to Manila will operate on Tuesdays, while those for Kuala Lumpur will be on Thursdays and Sundays.
Cargo flights to Bangkok will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
While the risk of contracting COVID-19 on an aircraft is regarded as low, several COVID-19 precautionary measures will be taken onflight, including reducing passenger numbers to allow for safe distancing, said Jetstar.
A maximum of 112 seats will be available on each flight, approximately 60 per cent of capacity, the airline added.
Onboard services will also be scaled back and passengers will be served only water during the flight.
"In line with new circuit breaker measures introduced by the Singapore Government, all passengers will be required to wear a mask, at all times. Crew members will also utilise masks and PPE in accordance with guidelines," said Jetstar.
READ: Commentary: COVID-19, the biggest crisis ever for Singapore’s aviation industry and Singapore Airlines
Travel vouchers may not be redeemed for these flights.
International flights have ground to a halt amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as countries put in place lockdowns and travel restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.
Several airlines have grounded most, if not all of their flights, and placed their cabin crew and pilots on leave.
At Changi Airport, passenger traffic plunged nearly 71 per cent in March, while aircraft landings and takeoffs fell by about 50 per cent.
Jetstar announced last month it would suspend all services for three weeks until Apr 15. It subsequently extended the suspension until May 18, following strict circuit breaker measures announced by the Singapore Government.
Some of Jetstar's crew members have taken up positions as SG Clean Ambassadors to educate the public on safe distancing requirements.
In all, close to half of Jetstar’s crew and corporate team members have taken up temporary roles with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), National Environment Agency and Raffles Medical Group, CNA reported earlier this week.
Manila, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur were chosen because of expected demand from those cities, the Jetstar spokesperson told CNA.
"They are where we expect demand for repatriation," said the spokesperson.
There are about 200,000 Singaporeans overseas. An estimated 200,000 Filipinos also live and work in Singapore, according to the Philippines Embassy.