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A Singapore Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mike Cassidy)

Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble Set for May 26

The highly-anticipated air travel bubble to allow quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and Singapore is set for take-off on May 26, six months delayed after its initially-planned launch.

Initially set for November last year, the travel bubble was burst by both countries due to the then-sudden rise of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, signaling a worsening situation at the time.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Monday that the travel bubble will have a cautious start with only one flight per day in each direction, and a maximum capacity of 200 passengers on each flight for the initial two weeks. Should the Covid-19 situation remain stagnant with no sudden rise for both parties, the numbers will be further reviewed.

Travel restrictions will also be tightened for vigilance, whereby travelers must have stayed in either Hong Kong or Singapore for at least fourteen days prior to the date of departure, and the 14-day period must not include any time spent already in quarantine or under any stay-home notices arising from their previous return to either countries from overseas.

As was mutually agreed under the original deal, travelers from both countries need to be tested negative for Covid-19 before they are allowed to board the direct flights.

Additionally, travelers must download and install Hong Kong’s LeaveHomeSafe mobile application on their technological devices before leaving Singapore for Hong Kong. Travelers holding a Hong Kong passport must also be fully vaccinated before being allowed to leave Hong Kong on the bubble flights.

The vaccination requirement will not apply to Singapore citizens and other travelers using non-Hong Kong travel documents for departure.

Milestone Recovery for Singapore Airlines

In response to the announce of the relaunch, Singapore Airlines said on Monday, April 26, that it welcomes the decision, as it is an “important milestone” in its recovery and helps to establish passenger confidence in the safe resumption of international air travel.

The carrier also said its inaugural travel bubble flight to Hong Kong, SQ882, is set for departure on May 26. The corresponding first flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, SQ883, will depart on May 28. For its May flights, SIA is planning to use the Airbus 350-900; it will use the Boeing 777-300ER for its June flights.

Starting June 9, the Singapore Airlines will begin operating daily air travel bubble flights with SQ882 set for departure from Singapore at 8:40am and SQ883 departing Hong Kong at 2:25pm. Its sister airline, Scoot, will also continue to operate daily non-travel-bubble flights between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Passengers with pre-existing bookings between Hong Kong and Singapore with SIA will be notified if their flight has been scheduled as an air travel bubble flight so that passengers can ready themselves to meet the necessary bubble requirements.

Passengers who fail to meet the bubble requirements, do not want to meet the requirements or are transit passengers departing from Hong Kong may choose to be accommodated onto a non-bubble flight operated by Scoot, where they will receive baggage allowance and meals on board.

However, transit passengers traveling from Singapore to Hong Kong will not be offered a re-accommodation to a Scoot flight due to regulatory requirements, but may request a refund or to rebook their flight.

Passengers on the travel bubble flights for the month starting May 26 will be treated to a special in-flight menu featuring the two cities’ popular local dishes such as nasi lemak and dim sum.

Return of Cathay Pacific Airways

Similarly, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways also said on Monday that it was ready to fly passengers on board its “two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free” air travel bubble flights starting May 26 as well.

The flights will be operated by pilots and cabin crew who have completed the vaccination program, the airline said.

Cathay’s inaugural travel bubble flight, CX759 from Hong Kong, will depart on May 26 at 9:10am, while CX734, from Singapore, will depart the following day at 2:45pm.

Starting from June 10, the airline will also start operating daily return flights to Singapore.

Both cities will closely monitor the Covid-19 situation from now to May 26 and will continue to proceed with the launch “if the situation continues to be steady and under control in both cities,” Singapore’s MOT said.

However, if the air travel bubble has to be suspended when the seven-day moving average of any unlinked community cases in either Hong Kong or Singapore increases to five or more, it can only be resumed once the Covid-19 situation has stabilized.

Charlotte Seet
Charlotte Seet
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