By Albert Kuan
Singapore Airlines suspends flights to Los Angeles
Singapore Airlines will suspend operations from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan from mid-February – the end of the airline’s winter schedule. According to sources close to the airline, the last flight from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport, SQ 35, will operate on February 16.
Singapore Airlines Singapore to Los Angeles flights via Taipei, Taiwan currently fly three times a week and fly eastbound Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. There are flights in a westerly direction on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Due to Taiwan’s ongoing transit ban due to Covid-19, the fifth freedom flight transports passengers exclusively between Singapore and Taipei or between Taipei and Los Angeles and does not transport persons between Singapore and Los Angeles.
All flights flying to Taiwan can only transport single-sector travelers with this ongoing ban. However, Singapore Airlines flies daily non-stop to Singapore from Los Angeles using its three-cabin Airbus A350-900 in a 3-class configuration, including economy class.
The airline’s route from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan has been in operation for less than 6 months since the service was reintroduced earlier this year on August 25th.
In an attempt to harness passenger and freight demand outside its home base, Singapore Airlines resumed flights between Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan last summer after a 13-year hiatus. The airline’s fifth freedom route was relaunched due to the high demand for travel to the United States from Taiwan for vaccination tourism at the time. The only other dominant airlines flying non-stop between the US and Taiwan are Taiwan’s China Airlines and EVA Air. Taiwan’s new Starlux Airlines is expected to launch service to Los Angeles in 2023.
Since the U.S. federal government’s stricter travel requirements for vaccination and pre-flight testing for non-nationals traveling to the United States were passed in November, the number of passengers from Taiwan has plummeted markedly. In addition, all Taiwan-bound travelers, including those vaccinated, are still required to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival, a rule that has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.
Taiwan still does not allow foreigners to enter the country without special permission or residence and is quarantined for 14 days, all arriving, including those vaccinated. Taiwan travelers can either be quarantined for 14 days in a government-approved hotel, or for those who have been vaccinated, quarantined for seven days in a government-approved hotel and another 7 days in their own home.
As vaccination rates rose last year, Taiwanese people hoped their government would ease quarantine requirements for the coming lunar new year with people like other Asian nations like Singapore and Thailand. On the contrary, the Taiwanese government only allowed vaccinated travelers to keep part of their quarantine at home to save on accommodation costs – continuing with a strict “zero covid” policy.
Singapore Airlines’ Los Angeles to Tokyo flight – the only second fifth freedom route from Los Angeles – will still continue to operate after the end of the winter schedule. The route was resumed in June 2020.