Singapore and Hong Kong have announced on Oct 15 that an air travel bubble (ATB) will be established for leisure travel between both cities in an attempt to restart cross border travel, even as the tourism sector continues to reel in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commencement date for this ATB has yet to be announced, but it is possible that this may happen before the end of the year.
The establishment of the ATB will permit travel between both cities with no restrictions and quarantines, subject to stringent protocols that will have to be agreed upon between authorities from both cities. For example, travellers will have to undergo COVID-19 tests and must have a negative test result before being permitted to travel. Also, travellers who wish to travel as part of the ATB will only be allowed on dedicated flights, meaning that there will be no intermingling of these passengers with other transit or non-ATB passengers.
However, it should be noted that the number of flights between both cities may be adjusted accordingly depending on the current COVID-19 transmission risk levels in both cities. In fact, if the situation takes a turn for the worst, the ATB may even be suspended temporarily until conditions improve.
Even as we speak, online searches for flights between Singapore and Hong Kong have surged since the announcement, and as market forces would predict, this has driven the fares up. That being said, given that ATB passengers must travel on dedicated flights which have yet to be announced, it might be more prudent to wait a little while longer until more information on these dedicated flights are released. However, based on the flight schedules in the coming months, we should expect airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and Cathay Pacific to be operating these dedicated flights under the ATB.
In order to put your minds at ease, I would also be expecting more information on insurance coverage, as well as the eligibility requirements for subsidised COVID-19 medical coverage for Singaporeans in the event they test positive within the approved ATB arrangements, to be released in due course.
The success of this ATB could very well pave the way for such similar air travel corridor arrangements between Singapore and more cities in time to come.