UPDATE (04/22/2021): singapore and hong kong have delayed an air travel bubble announcement, reports bloomberg news. the travel bubble was initially planned to launch back in november 2020, when it was called off due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in hong kong. the reason for this latest delay hasn’t yet been confirmed but it does mark the second time in five months that the travel deal has been shelved. 



travel and tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, but could this be set to change with the announcement of a singapore-hong kong ‘air travel bubble’. the deal has been struck between two of asia’s top aviation companies – singapore airlines and cathay pacific airways – and the first quarantine-free flights will begin on november 22 2020.



the civil aviation authority of singapore (CAAS) said, ‘the inaugural singapore-hong kong air travel bubble (ATB) flights are set to take flight on sunday, 22 november 2020 with robust safeguards in place. travelers will be subject to mutually recognized COVID-19 tests and must comply with public health requirements. this milestone arrangement will facilitate the gradual resumption of cross-border travel between two aviation hubs in a safe and progressive way.’



singapore’s minister of travel, ong ye kung, added, ‘this is as close as it gets to cross-border travel pre-COVID-19.’


video courtesy of the civil aviation authority of singapore (CAAS)

(main image by nafis al sadnan on unsplash)



the scheme will start with just one flight per day and with a maximum of 200 passengers each way. if all goes well, this will increase to two flights every day into each city from december 7 2020.



to be eligible to travel, passengers must have stayed in singapore and/or hong kong for the last 14 days prior to departure and they must have a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 72 hours before flying. before contacting and booking their PCR test with a recognized test center, travelers must also apply for approval at least seven days before their flight date (this approval will not be required after december 1 2020).



upon arrival, passengers will have to have another PCR test, which they must book and pay for prior to taking off. they must also wait in the airport until they receive their negative test results. the measures are stringent but CAAS trusts they will provide a safe way to reopen borders before an effective vaccine can be rolled out across the globe. ong ye kung also believes that the arrangement will be an example to other countries that are looking at how to lift international travel restrictions without resulting in a surge of COVID-19 cases.



following the announcement, bloomberg reported that shares in singapore airlines dropped slightly by 0.3% while shares in cathay pacific airways rose by 1.4%. however, both aviation companies saw rises in share prices following the hopeful announcement on tuesday november 10 of pfizer and BioNTech‘s ‘90% effective’ vaccine candidate, which you read more about here