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Singapore and Hong Kong agree on modest travel bubble

written by Adam Thorn | April 28, 2021

An ex-SilkAir Boeing 737, repainted to don Singapore Airlines’ iconic livery (Singapore Airlines)

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to start a travel bubble from 26 May – but it will begin with just one return flight a day.

The agreement, which allows passengers to forego quarantine, was due to launch in November but was delayed after a spike of cases in Hong Kong.

Its launch will mark the second major travel corridor to open between countries operating a hotel isolation program, after Australia and New Zealand restarted travel earlier this month.

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Minister for Transport, said, “I am happy that Hong Kong got the COVID-19 situation under control. It has been a long few months, but the conditions are now ripe again to re-launch the Air Travel Bubble.”

The deal will initially include just one flight carrying a maximum of 200 passengers for the first fortnight, before expanding.

All passengers departing from Hong Kong must be vaccinated, while customers from both cities are expected to take a test within three days of departure and then again on arrival.

The arrangement will be suspended if the seven-day average of unlinked community cases in either city increases to more than five.


“Our goal remains striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience so that the public will feel assured while providing certainty,” Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said.

Singapore Airlines lost $1.66 billion in the nine months before December, while Cathay reported an annual loss of $2.8 billion.

The Australia–New Zealand bubble has proved a huge success since it officially opened on 18 April at 11:59pm. On day one alone, Air New Zealand operated 30 flights, and Qantas and Jetstar 29.

Qantas and Jetstar will operate 83 per cent of their pre-COVID capacity to New Zealand now the bubble has launched, and also start two new routes from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast.

In total, the Qantas Group revealed will operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, or 52,000 seats each week. It has been operating at just 3 per cent pre-COVID capacity during the current one-way arrangement.

Air New Zealand’s 30 daily flights are set to grow to more than 300 per week operating from Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth and Sydney into Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

While the arrangement to the Australian state of Western Australia was suspended, it has since resumed.


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