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S'pore-HK air travel bubble starts May 26, 2 daily flights capped at 200 passengers each for first 2 weeks

SINGAPORE — 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, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Monday (April 26).

Visitors walk along a viewing platform on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on July 28, 2020.

Visitors walk along a viewing platform on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on July 28, 2020.

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  • The Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble will be relaunched on May 26, after several delays
  • For a start, one flight in each direction will be allowed, with up to 200 passengers on each flight for the first fortnight 
  • Travellers must have remained in Singapore or Hong Kong for 14 days before departure
  • The bubble will be suspended for at least 14 days if the seven-day moving average of virus cases with no known origin in either city surpasses five 
  • Interested travellers must use only designated flights operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific

 

SINGAPORE — 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, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Monday (April 26).

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 (CAAS).

The air travel bubble arrangement, announced on Nov 11 last year but later postponed owing to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, will allow all forms of travel without quarantine.

MOT said on Monday that Singapore and Hong Kong have since reviewed the arrangements and made several improvements to the agreement. 

These include stricter conditions for the resumption of the travel bubble, should it be suspended owing to new coronavirus community clusters in either city.

Flights to Hong Kong were originally scheduled to take off from Singapore under this travel arrangement on Nov 22 last year. 

But it was cancelled at the eleventh hour after Hong Kong was hit by a spike in Covid-19 cases. 

Since then, the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong has improved, with few local virus cases in the past few weeks with no known origin. Community cases in Singapore have also remained low, said MOT. 

“The risk profiles of both cities are, therefore, now similar,” MOT added.

In the past week, Singapore has recorded three virus cases with no known origin in the wider community. There were 17 such cases recorded in Hong Kong in the past 14 days.

MOT said that both parties would closely monitor the Covid-19 situation from now to the targeted launch of the travel bubble on May 26 and proceed if the situation continues to be steady and under control in both cities.

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WHO IS ELIGIBLE? 

Setting out the criteria, CAAS said that all travellers using the air travel bubble must have remained in Singapore or Hong Kong for 14 days before departure. This 14-day period must exclude any time spent in quarantine or under stay-home orders arising from their last return to Singapore or Hong Kong from overseas.

In addition, travellers leaving Singapore for Hong Kong must download and install Hong Kong’s LeaveHomeSafe contact-tracing app on their mobile devices before departure. Travellers from Hong Kong must use Singapore’s TraceTogether contact-tracing app while in the Republic. 

Hong Kong previously announced that it would also require its residents to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before departing on travel bubble flights. There is no such rule for travellers setting off from Singapore. 

The bubble will be suspended for at least 14 days if the seven-day moving average of community cases with no known origin in Singapore or Hong Kong surpasses five. This number excludes cases from dormitories housing migrant workers. 

CAAS said that the travel bubble can resume if two criteria are met:

  • The seven-day moving average in Hong Kong and Singapore does not exceed five on the last day of the 14-day suspension or any subsequent day

  • After the first criterion is met, there must also be three consecutive days when the daily number of Covid-19 cases with no known origin in both cities does not exceed three. The seven-day moving average of infections with no known origin should also not exceed five cases in both places on the last of these three consecutive days

Travellers wishing to use the travel bubble must test negative on pre-departure and on-arrival polymerase chain reaction swab tests in lieu of quarantine or stay-home orders.

CAAS said that interested travellers must travel only on designated travel bubble flights operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA) or Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways. 

In a press statement, SIA said that its inaugural travel bubble flight would depart Singapore on May 26 at 8.40am. Subsequent services are scheduled to depart on May 28, 30 and 31, and June 2, 4 and 7. 

Its first bubble flight from Hong Kong will leave on May 28 at 2.25pm. Subsequent return flights will be on May 30 and 31, and June 2, 4 and 7. 

SIA will run daily travel bubble flights from June 9.

Based on TODAY’s checks, the cost of an economy-class ticket on the inaugural SIA flight nearly doubled from S$557 at 10.30am on Monday to S$1,028 after the announcement.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement that its inaugural flight from Hong Kong would depart on May 26 at 9.10am. Subsequent flights are scheduled for May 27 and 29, and June 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8.

Its first flight from Singapore will depart on May 27 at 2.45pm. Subsequent services are scheduled for May 29, and June 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8.

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

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

CONDITIONS ‘RIPE’ TO RELAUNCH BUBBLE

Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said he was 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 relaunch the air travel bubble. Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flight smoothly.” 

Mr Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, said: “Our goal remains striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience, so that the public will feel assured while providing certainty.”

Last week, Singapore’s health ministry also said that the city-state would ease border restrictions for travellers from Hong Kong.

From 11.59pm on April 22, they will undergo a reduced seven-day stay-home notice, down from 14 days, which can be served at their place of residence if suitable.

Related topics

air travel bubble Covid-19 coronavirus Hong Kong

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