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HK-S'pore air travel bubble: Several outbound flights sell out in hours despite ticket prices surging to over S$1,000

SINGAPORE — Hours after an announcement the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will start on May 26, tickets were selling fast, with seats on the first few outbound flights from Singapore sold out by Monday (April 26) evening despite a spike in ticket prices.

HK-S'pore air travel bubble: Several outbound flights sell out in hours despite ticket prices surging to over S$1,000

The cost of economy class airfares for the first bubble flight nearly doubled shortly after the announcement of the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong on Monday morning (April 26).

  • The first few outbound flights in the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble have sold out
  • Ticket prices jumped sharply after news of the May 26 start date
  • As of Monday evening, tickets were still available for June 7 and later
  • Early ticket buyers are excited to be going but some are wary of further delays

 

SINGAPORE — Hours after an announcement the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will start on May 26, tickets were selling fast, with seats on the first few outbound flights from Singapore sold out by Monday (April 26) evening despite a spike in ticket prices.

Shortly after the announcement on Monday morning, the cost of economy class airfares for the first bubble flight nearly doubled.

Based on TODAY’s checks, the cost of an economy-class return ticket on the inaugural Singapore Airlines (SIA) bubble flight on May 26 at 8.40am nearly doubled from S$557 at 10.30am on Monday to S$1,028 after the announcement, which was made at 11.30am. 

Checks by TODAY showed that the cost of an economy-class return ticket on Cathay Pacific’s first flight out of Singapore on May 27, however, had risen only slightly from S$485 to S$530 after the announcement.

At 6.50pm on Monday, SIA’s first bubble flight, along with subsequent services set to depart on May 28, 30 and 31, and June 2 and 4 had sold out.

The first available tickets on SIA at that time were for June 7 with an economy seat available at S$652 for a return ticket.

SIA’s first bubble flight from Hong Kong, which will leave on May 28 at 2.25pm, was also sold out when TODAY checked at 6.50pm. Subsequent SIA flights from Hong Kong on May 30 and 31, and June 2, 4 and 7 are still available.

SIA will run daily travel bubble flights from June 9.

Cathay Pacific’s first flight from Singapore on May 27 is sold out with tickets still available, as at 6.30pm on Monday, for subsequent services set for May 29, and June 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8.

A premium economy return ticket on the next available Cathay Pacific flight on May 29 has more than doubled, from S$485 at 10.30am on Monday to S$1,038 at 6pm.

The Hong Kong carrier’s first bubble flight from Hong Kong is set to depart on May 26 at 9.10am and premium economy return tickets were still up for grabs at 6.30pm for HKD11,133 (S$1,902).

Subsequent flights scheduled for May 27 and 29 have sold out while flights for June 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8 are still available.

Cathay Pacific will run daily return travel bubble flights from June 10.

Responding to queries, a Cathay Pacific spokesperson told TODAY: “We have seen very positive responses to travel on our Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble route after today's announcement. Seats on our air travel bubble flights are selling fast, while some of the flights are sold out.”

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said on Monday that Singapore and Hong Kong will start their travel bubble “cautiously” on May 26, allowing one flight a day in each direction. Each flight may carry up to 200 passengers for the first two weeks and the caps will be reviewed thereafter,

From June 10, two daily flights will be permitted to operate in each direction, with up to 200 passengers per flight, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

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TOOK A PUNT

Mr Ryan Kieran Chan, 30, who was supposed to head to Hong Kong for a trip last November, before the launch of the bubble arrangement was postponed, will be on the inaugural May 26 flight — by a stroke of luck.

“I rebooked my tickets way before today's air travel bubble announcement and got pretty lucky booking a flight that ended up as the very first of the bubble,” said Mr Chan, who will be travelling solo.

Mr Chan, who works in computer analytics, said that he has plans to hike while he is in Hong Kong for five nights, adding that some of the views in Hong Kong are “out of this world”.

However, he is not as “giddily excited” as he was for the first launch in November.

“If the initial failed launch taught us anything, it’s that all this careful planning is moot when the virus decides to strike hard,” he said.

Mr Aaron Wong, who also has a seat on the May 26 flight, is similarly “cautiously excited”.

“I’m excited because this will be the first opportunity for leisure travel in more than a year, but I’m cautious because we know how fast the Covid-19 situation can change,” said the 33-year-old, who will be in Hong Kong for four nights.

The founder of travel website The Milelion, who had a seat on the aborted first Nov 22 flight, said that as the initial travel bubble was postponed by two weeks at first, he held onto his ticket hoping it would resume quickly but as it dragged on, he cancelled and got a refund.

His trip is part work and part leisure, Mr Wong said, as on the work side he will be visiting and reviewing various Hong Kong hotels for his website. He will also catch up with friends.

WAIT AND SEE APPROACH

Mr Dennison Wee, 25, a travel blogger at Seeing The World In Steps, also booked his tickets days ago when he heard of rumours that the air travel bubble would start again.

“Thankfully with their flexible booking policies and ticketing rules, I am unafraid to make a booking immediately. Even if the air travel bubble is cancelled once again, I know that my ticket could be deferred or refunded,” said Mr Wee, who will be flying out on June 15.

Mr Wee, who was also booked on the Nov 22 flight, said that while he has been to Hong Kong multiple times previously, he would “kill for any travelling right now”.

“I am missing it so badly,” he said.

Most of his friends, however, are taking a “wait and see attitude”, said Mr Wee.

Travel blogger Dennison Wee, 25, pictured during his last trip to Hong Kong in 2015. He was among the first to buy a ticket on an travel bubble flight as he said he was "missing travel so badly". Photo courtesy of Dennison Wee

One 43-year-old Hong Konger, who has been living and working in Singapore since late 2019, said she will also be holding off on booking her ticket till the situation stabilises.

“I can’t afford an emotional roller coaster (again). I am excited but worried that it will stop again before it even starts or that it will start and then quickly stop again,” said the woman, who declined to give her name for fear of immigration complications.

She is set to reunite with her family, whom she has not seen in 15 months and aims to book in June.

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Hong Kong Singapore Airlines Cathay Pacific air travel bubble Covid-19

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