The Singapore and Hong Kong governments have agreed to set May 26 as the launch date of the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB).

The confirmation came in the morning of April 26, a day after a Bloomberg article revealed the news.


See: Singapore travel bubble with Hong Kong to start May 26


 

The travel bubble was originally planned to begin in November 2020, and was deferred by both parties due to the worsening Covid-19 situation at the time.

Want our latest Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram, Facebook for the latest updates round the clock

According to the statement put out by Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, both Singapore and Hong Kong have reviewed the agreement and made “several improvements” including stricter conditions for the resumption of the travel bubble.

The Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong has improved with few local unlinked Covid-19 cases while community cases in Singapore have remained low.

The risk profiles of both cities, says the Ministry of Transport, are now similar.

Both parties will monitor the Covid-19 situation from now to the launch date of May 26.

The launch will proceed should the situation remain “steady and under control” in both cities.

The travel bubble will begin with one flight a day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers on each flight for the first two weeks. The numbers will be reviewed thereafter.

“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 re-launch the air travel bubble,” says Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Transport.

“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 air travel bubble between two aviation and financial services hubs in Asia,” he adds.

“With gradual stabilisation of the fourth wave of epidemic in Hong Kong, we have been engaging in active discussion with Singapore on the re-launch of [the] air travel bubble. 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,” says Edward Yau, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.

“Our goal remains striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience so that the public will feel assured while providing certainty,” he adds.

“The re-launch of [the] air travel bubble not only meets the aspirations of the people and business communities on cross-border travel, but also signifies that gradual resumption of cross-border travel is achievable through mutual collaborations among different places. We will continue to maintain communication with the Singapore Government and closely monitor the epidemic development of both places to ensure the smooth launch of [the] air travel bubble,” says Yau.

A statement from Singapore Airlines (SIA) says it "welcomes" the decision.

"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," says an SIA spokesperson.

The inaugural SIA ATB will depart from Singapore to Hong Kong on May 26 on flight SQ882. The Hong Kong to Singapore flight will depart on May 28.

The airline has also released the flight schedule from May 26 to June 7:

sq hk

From June 9 onwards, SIA will operate daily flights for the air travel bubble.

sq hk2

Travellers transiting through Singapore or Hong Kong, as well as those who do not meet the air travel bubble requirements, are not allowed on ATB flights.

Scoot will operate daily non-ATB flights between Singapore and Hong Kong.

As part of the travel bubble arrangement, the airline also announced its month-long special in-flight menu featuring popular local dishes from Singapore and Hong Kong such as carrot cake and nasi lemak, dim sum and soya sauce chicken noodle.

As at 12.23pm, shares in SIA are trading 12 cents higher or 2.4% up at $5.15.