The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore will no longer pursue plans for the much-delayed Air Travel Bubble (ATB) between the two destinations.
The ATB had originally been due to start in November 2020, but was delayed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. The launch date was eventually reset for May 26, 2021, only to be postponed again because of a spike in cases in Singapore.
In June Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said that it would revisit the ATB in July, but both countries have now released statements confirming that further discussions will no longer be pursued.
The HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) government cited “differences in the anti-epidemic strategies currently adopted by the two places”, while Singapore’s MoT said:
“In Singapore, a substantial proportion of our population is fully vaccinated. Hong Kong too is progressively vaccinating its population. Both sides are focused on keeping our populations safe and preventing the risk of imported cases.
“But our strategies differ, with Singapore now taking steps towards becoming a Covid-resilient nation. Against this backdrop, both parties agreed that it would not be possible to launch or sustain the ATB in its present form.”
Hong Kong said that Singapore’s new strategy meant that “the basic premises that underpin the ATB have changed”.
Singapore has however announced that it will unilaterally allow quarantine-free entry of travellers from Hong Kong from 2359 on August 20.
Restrictions remain in place for travellers arriving into Hong Kong from Singapore, although the Singapore MoT’s statement said that “Hong Kong will continue to consider adjusting its border measures to facilitate travellers from Singapore to enter Hong Kong”.
Air travel bubbles had been hailed as a way of resuming international flights in the wake of Covid-19, but this latest setback follows the suspension of the Australia-New Zealand trans-Tasman bubble in July.