SINGAPORE—In light of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Singapore, the air travel bubble (ATB) agreement between Hong Kong and Singapore will be postponed for the second time.
What is the Air Travel Bubble Agreement?
According to Singapore Government, the ATB is a milestone arrangement between two aviation hubs and seeks to revive air travel safely and progressively.
Under the ATB, travellers between Singapore and Hong Kong will be subject to COVID-19 tests in lieu of quarantine or Stay-Home Notice. There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.
The travel bubble was due to start with one flight a day into each city, with up to 200 travellers on each flight.
The plan is the latest attempt by Singapore to revive its aviation industry, which has been afflicted badly than some other countries because the city-state lacks a domestic travel sector.
Hong Kong-Singapore ATB is on hold again
The bubble was initially slated to begin in November last year but was called off after a rise in cases in Hong Kong. Under the plan, travellers would have to test negative for COVID-19 before departure and on arrival to move freely between the cities.
With strict border controls and effective contact tracing, Hong Kong and Singapore have been largely successful in keeping the virus at bay over the past year, but new cases in Singapore this month have dashed hopes for the air travel bubble.
According to Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Monday (17 May), both cities remain strongly committed to launching the ATB safely. However, in light of the recent increase in unlinked community cases, Singapore is unable to meet the criteria to start the Singapore-Hong Kong ATB.
Nonetheless, Singapore and Hong Kong continue to monitor the public health situation in both places and review the new launch date of the ATB flights towards the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in Singapore.
Travellers may still continue their journey on non-designated ATB flights. However, such travellers will be subject to the prevailing border control and health requirements of both places. Singapore residents returning from Hong Kong will be subject to a 7-day Stay-Home Notice upon entry into Singapore.
Affected travellers will be contacted by the airlines.