The much-delayed air travel bubble (ATB) between Singapore and Hong Kong that will allow quarantine-free travel between the two cities is poised to kick off on May 26.
This comes six months after the ATB’s original planned launch last November was deferred by both parties due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong.
Both parties will start the Singapore-Hong Kong ATB cautiously, with one flight a day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers on each flight for the first two weeks, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a statement on Monday (April 26). The numbers will be reviewed thereafter, it added.
Singapore’s transport minister Ong Ye Kung said in the release: “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 relaunch the ATB. Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly. It is a significant ATB between two aviation and financial services hubs in Asia.”
Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, added: “With gradual stabilisation of the fourth wave of epidemic in Hong Kong, we have been engaging in active discussion with Singapore on the relaunch of ATB. The two governments have reached consensus on the latest arrangements and will put in place more stringent public health protocols in response to the latest epidemic development. Our goal remains striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience so that the public will feel assured while providing certainty.”
Both sides will closely monitor the Covid-19 situation from now to the ATB’s targeted launch date, and will proceed with the launch if the situation continues to be steady and under control in both cities, said MOT.
The ATB flights will be operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Cathay Pacific.
Welcoming the move, a spokesperson from SIA, said in a statement: “This is an important milestone in our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and helps to establish confidence in the safe resumption of international air travel with the necessary protocols in place. Singapore Airlines strongly support all efforts to open the Singapore air hub up in a safe and calibrated manner. We will continue to be nimble and flexible in adjusting our capacity to meet the demand for air travel.”
SIA has also released its ATB flight schedule to and from Hong Kong.
The airline’s inaugural ATB flight from Singapore to Hong Kong, SQ882, will depart on May 26; while its inaugural ATB flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, SQ883, will depart on May 28.
From May 26 to June 7, the flight schedule will be as follows:
From June 9, SIA will operate daily ATB flights, with the schedule as below:
In a statement, Cathay Pacific said that these ABT flights will be operated by pilots and cabin crew who have all been fully vaccinated.
“With travel having been difficult for everyone over the past year, we know that our customers have been eagerly anticipating the launch of our Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble flights so that they can rediscover the joy of flying. We believe the safe and secure bubble flights will be a milestone showcase for the opening of similar travel arrangements with other popular destinations,” said the airline.
Cathay Pacific’s ATB flights will operate as CX759 and CX734 using the airline’s modern, fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The inaugural CX759 flight from Hong Kong will depart on May 26, while the first CX734 flight from Singapore will depart on May 27.
From May 27 to June 9, the flight schedule will be as follows:
From June 10, Cathay Pacific will operate daily return ATB flights to Singapore.
This article has been updated to include Cathay Pacific’s comments and ABT flight details.