Government AffairsSaipan's calling for the first batch of vaccinated tourists from Seoul.

First travel bubble kicks off for South Korea

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Of the 92 passengers on the two flights out on reopening day, just six were on the quarantine-free arrangement.
Of the 92 passengers on the two flights out on reopening day, just six were on the quarantine-free arrangement. Photo Credit: Asiana Airlines USA

South Korea's first travel bubble arrangement has taken off over the weekend.

The agreement first bubbled up in June to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated travellers to a list of possible countries, including Saipan in US's Northern Mariana Islands.

However, South Korea's travel bubble arrangement with Saipan has been met with slow demand so far, amid the destination's fourth Covid wave stoked by the Delta variant.

While the plan allows each plane to carry some 200 passengers each way, the two reopening flights on 24 July Saturday morning — one each from Asiana Airlines and Jeju Air — carried just 92 passengers in total.

Of these, just six were on the quarantine-free arrangement.

The rest were residents or students, according to the local transport ministry's database, reported the Korea Herald.

“Airlines are doing their best since the beginning of the pandemic to follow Covid-19 prevention guidelines by disinfecting the planes and leaving space between seats when possible,” said one anonymous airline official in the same report.

With South Korea battling its highest Covid-19 daily count yet (1,896 cases) on 28 July, airlines are allowing passengers to domestic flights booked before 23 July, for trips between now to early August.

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