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Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble on hold as cases spike

The world’s first air corridor gets put on a two-week hold as COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong spike

November 25, 2020

The highly anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore air travel corridor has hit a snag. Originally set to launch on November 22, the date for the world’s first travel corridor is being pushed back by two weeks as community transmission rates in Hong Kong are on the rise again.

However, when the service was initially announced earlier this month, authorities warned that if the COVID-19 situation deteriorates in either city, the air travel bubble arrangement would be put on hold.

The HKI-SIN travel bubble flights would have showcased how international travel can be done safely by substituting stringent testing regimes for crippling mandatory quarantines. Under the plan, eligible travelers would not be required to quarantine in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Instead they would need to take a pre-flight COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure and obtain a negative test result. They also need to book and pay for the post-arrival COVID-19 PCR test required upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport. This needs to be done before they depart Singapore.

Passengers would not be required to take another test when arriving in Singapore, however most foreign travelers are required to have a Singapore-issued Air Travel Pass.

Flag carriers Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines were set to operate one daily designated travel bubble flight each, initially with a quota of 200 travelers each way.

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travelers who have planned their trips,” said Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s minister for transport, in a social media post. “This is a sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs. But we will press on and look forward to when we can safely launch the air travel bubble.”

Reports in the South China Morning Post quote Cathay Pacific’s executive director Ronald Lam Siu-por on an investor call prior to the government’s announcement, saying that demand for the travel bubble was “overwhelming” with most flights sold out.