Tag: KongSingapore

Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Won’t Happen This Year

A plan to allow quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and Singapore, delayed last month as Covid-19 cases began surging in Hong Kong, has now been pushed back beyond the end of the year.

The travel bubble, announced on Nov. 11, was set to begin on Nov. 22, but authorities delayed it by two weeks after Hong Kong was hit by dozens of new cases.

On Tuesday, after Hong Kong announced a host of stringent new measures to curb the growing outbreak, Singapore’s civil aviation authority said the two governments had agreed to delay the start of the travel bubble again, until after the end of 2020. It said they would review an exact start date in late December.

Hong Kong has seen a surge in infections in the past two weeks, after keeping daily new cases largely to the single digits and teens since late August. The city reported a recent high of 115 new cases on Sunday.

City officials said Monday that bars and many other indoor services would close, students would move to online instruction and civil servants would begin working from home.

The city has kept its caseload relatively low throughout the pandemic, requiring people to wear masks in public and quarantine on entry from abroad. It also pursues aggressive testing and contact tracing.

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Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble Isn’t Happening in 2020

(Bloomberg) — A resurgence of the virus is scuppering hopes of a return to normalcy in Hong Kong.



a group of people sitting at a train station: Changi International Airport in Singapore.


© Photographer: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP
Changi International Airport in Singapore.

A key travel bubble with Singapore was delayed for a second time on Tuesday, some international banks ordered their staff to resume working from home and Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, said even parties at sea are off limits.

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It’s a sobering reminder of how quickly circumstances can change. After a long lull with just a handful of cases a day, the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong prompted the government to impose tighter social-distancing rules and to close schools again. The city reported 82 new infections on Tuesday.

While Hong Kong’s resurgent outbreak is far less intense than in the U.S. and Europe, where cases in some places are still hitting daily records, it’s been enough to usher in a raft of new restrictions. With nightclubs and karaoke parlors closed, a hotline for residents to report parties aboard yachts and rented party boats has been set up, Lam told a weekly news briefing Tuesday.

“The reporting hotline newly set up is there because we see that, after party rooms and karaoke parlors have been made to close, there are a number of people who organize events at sea,” Lam said. “We want to target such a breach.”

Bank Staff

While Hong Kong is poised to limit public gatherings to two people, the government hasn’t capped the number of people who can meet in private. A police representative declined to elaborate on the rules on whether the measure would have any effect on private parties hosted by yacht owners, referring only to the earlier Facebook post.

Meanwhile, global banks in the financial hub from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Standard Chartered Plc are urging more staff to work from home again.

Goldman Sachs will go back to a full work-from-home approach in Hong Kong starting Wednesday except for staff that have to be in the office to perform their roles, according to a staff memo that was confirmed by a bank spokesman.

Standard Chartered has applied a hard split-team arrangement for functions that require work in the office, and shortened branch hours last Friday, according to a spokeswoman. “In view of Covid wave 4, we strongly encourage our staff to work from home where possible,” she said.

But perhaps Tuesday’s biggest setback was the delay until 2021 of the keenly anticipated travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s a blow for the region’s airlines and tourism businesses seeking to start a recovery from the almost year-long pandemic.

The travel bubble that would have involved rigorous Covid testing will be delayed beyond 2020, and the cities said Tuesday they will review the arrangement for 2021 toward late December. The pact, which would have allowed passengers to travel between the centers without a quarantine, was already postponed by two weeks on Nov. 21, a day before flights were due to start.

Bubble

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Hong Kong-Singapore Bubble Delay Hits Travel Rebound Hopes

(Bloomberg) — The shelving of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble shows just how delicate the process of reopening borders is — even for places that have largely contained the coronavirus.

The cities’ virus outbreaks are far less intense than in places such as the U.S. and Europe, but a recent uptick in cases in Hong Kong proved enough to delay the start of the air corridor between the two financial hubs by two weeks, dashing the plans of those who booked flights that were due to begin Sunday.

The bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was heralded as a pandemic world-first, allowing people to travel to and from the two places without the need for quarantine. Authorities are reviewing a new launch date.



Ong Ye Kung standing in front of a crowd: Key Speakers at The Singapore FinTech Festival


© Bloomberg
Key Speakers at The Singapore FinTech Festival

Ong Ye Kung

Photographer: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs,” Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Saturday.

The two sides agreed that the bubble would be suspended if local infections exceeded five on a rolling seven-day average. That wasn’t even met in Hong Kong before the decision, but the recent jump in infections there was enough for authorities to apply the brakes, handing another setback to the aviation and travel industries of the two cities, which had some of the region’s busiest airports before the pandemic.



chart: Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan


© Bloomberg
Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan

Strict border curbs have helped Asia contain the coronavirus better than other parts of the world, with countries from China to New Zealand limiting the entry of travelers and imposing mandatory quarantines as a way of stopping the virus at their doors. But the approach — which has seen some all but eliminate Covid-19 — has come at a heavy cost, decimating tourism with cross-border travel basically paralyzed.

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While in-country containment of the virus has resulted in the world’s 10 busiest domestic air travel routes now all being in Asia, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd., Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. continue to struggle as they have no domestic travel market to fall back on. Cathay’s shares slid as much as 6.6% on Monday and Singapore Airlines dropped 1.7%

Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the two aviation hubs will be limited, said Rico Merkert, professor of transport at the University of Sydney’s business school. Singapore Airlines and Cathay will continue to struggle because they can’t funnel onto the route those travelers who would normally arrive from Europe and the U.S., he said.

“Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population,” Merkert said. “International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

Cathay had described the bubble as “a hugely encouraging development and an important first step in

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Hong Kong-Singapore Bubble Delay Shows Travel Rebound Uncertain

(Bloomberg) — The shelving of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble shows just how delicate the process of reopening borders is — even for places that have largely contained the coronavirus.

Asia’s virus outbreak is dwarfed by those in the U.S. and Europe, but a recent uptick in cases in Hong Kong proved enough to delay the start of the air corridor between the two financial hubs by two weeks, dashing the plans of those who booked flights that were due to begin Sunday. The bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was heralded as a pandemic world-first, allowing people to travel to and from the two places without the need for quarantine.



Ong Ye Kung standing in front of a crowd: Key Speakers at The Singapore FinTech Festival


© Bloomberg
Key Speakers at The Singapore FinTech Festival

Ong Ye Kung

Photographer: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs,” Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Saturday.

The two sides agreed that the bubble would be suspended if local infections exceeded five on a rolling seven-day average. That wasn’t even met in Hong Kong before the decision, but the recent jump in infections there was enough for authorities to apply the brakes, handing another setback to the aviation and travel industries of the two cities, which had some of the region’s busiest airports before the pandemic.



chart: Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan


© Bloomberg
Shares of Cathay and Singapore Air staged a recovery in November with bubble plan

Strict border curbs have helped Asia contain the coronavirus better than other parts of the world, with countries from China to New Zealand limiting the entry of travelers and imposing mandatory quarantines as a way of stopping the virus at their doors. But the approach — which has seen some all but eliminate Covid-19 — has come at a heavy cost, decimating tourism with cross-border travel basically paralyzed.

A Third of the World’s Air Routes Have Been Lost Due to Covid

While in-country containment of the virus has resulted in the world’s 10 busiest domestic air travel routes now all being in Asia, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd., Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. continue to struggle as they have no domestic travel market to fall back on.

Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the two aviation hubs will be limited, said Rico Merkert, professor of transport at the University of Sydney’s business school. Singapore Air and Cathay will continue to struggle because they still can’t funnel onto the route those travelers who would normally arrive from Europe and the U.S., he said.

“Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population,” Merkert said. “International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

Video: Klook: ‘Really excited’ about Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble (CNBC)

Klook: ‘Really excited’ about Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble

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Cathay had described the

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Hong Kong-Singapore ‘travel bubble’ postponed

The highly-anticipated Hong Kong and Singapore “air travel bubble” was postponed Saturday — less than 24 hours before it was due to launch.



a large passenger jet flying over a body of water: A Cathay Pacific passenger airplane takes off from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 10, 2020.


© Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
A Cathay Pacific passenger airplane takes off from Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 10, 2020.

The bubble would have allowed quarantine-free, air travel between the two Asian hubs. But a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong means the arrangement will be postponed for two weeks, said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, at a press conference Saturday.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest daily spike in over three months. Among them, 36 were locally transmitted — including 13 that are untraceable.

The quarantine-free corridor was meant to boost tourism and business travel between the two Asian hubs, which have largely contained their coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong has recorded 5,561 Covid-19 cases, including 108 deaths, since the outbreak began, while Singapore has reported 58,000 infections and 28 deaths.

Quarantine-free travel would have been a big deal for both destinations, where strict arrival regulations have been in place for months. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, both governments shut borders and denied entry to most non-residents and short-term visitors. In Hong Kong, returning residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and wear an electronic bracelet to track their location.

How the bubble was meant to work

The bubble was set to begin Sunday with one flight a day into each city, with a quota of 200 travelers per flight — and later set increased to two flights a day.

Travelers would have to meet certain parameters before embarking, such as having made no trips in the previous 14 days, and undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing. But they wouldn’t be subject to any quarantine or stay-home notice requirements, or a controlled itinerary, upon arrival.

However, the arrangement always included the caveat that should the Covid-19 situation deteriorate in either city, the plan would be suspended.

Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority initially announced on Saturday morning that the travel bubble with Hong Kong would be launched as scheduled. But later that day, the city-state’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced there had been a change of plan.

“Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the ATB, by two weeks. We will review within two weeks on the new launch date and update again,” Ong said.

Hong Kong has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the past few days, after weeks of steadily low number of cases.

The city’s Centre for Health Protection “strongly urged” the public to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong, and called on residents to avoid going out, dining out and having social contact.

“The scale of the increase is very alarming,” Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch at Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection

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‘All eyes’ on the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble as other Asian countries prepare for more, bookings firm says

  • The travel industry will be closely watching to see if the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble will succeed, as countries in the region hope to strike up similar arrangements.
  • Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder of travel bookings platform Klook, said tourism boards across the region have already reached out to make plans.

Klook: ‘Really excited’ about Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble

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SINGAPORE — The world will be watching closely to see if the quarantine-free travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will succeed, according to one of the region’s major travel operators Klook.

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“All eyes are on this bubble, making sure that it’s going to get pulled off,” Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and chief operating officer of travel bookings platform Klook, told CNBC Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s highly-anticipated launch.

If successful, he’s optimistic that there will be more of such travel bubbles in the region.

Specially designated “air travel bubble” flights between Hong Kong and Singapore are due to begin on Nov. 22 after further details were released last week, which will see travelers switch quarantine for testing.

Following the announcement, Gnock Fah said tourism authorities across the region had been reaching out to make plans for additional travel agreements, should they be made.

“Once this news came out, actually many of the other tourism boards around Asia have been very active coming to us to discuss about the plans that they have put in place,” said Gnock Fah.

“As this bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore starts becoming a bit more stable, we should be expecting more travel bubbles to open on that front. We’re quite optimistic on that front,” he added.

Travel searches soar

Klook, which manages in-destination bookings like hotels and experiences, saw searches for the respective destinations surge more than 8 times on the day of the announcement.

Travelers from Singapore proved particularly restless, he noted, with travel searches from the tiny city-state up 8-10 times versus 3-5 times in Hong Kong.



a man standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera: Singapore Airlines crew members arrive to board the plane for the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Singapore Airlines crew members arrive to board the plane for the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.

Travelers on both sides were equally keen to offset heightened airfares and testing costs with longer stays, Gnock Fah said, pointing out that it marked a departure from pre-Covid preferences for long-weekend stays. In-destination operators like hotels aim to capture this trend with continued discounting, he added.

The travel and tourism industry received a further boon this past week as promising vaccine announcements from Pfizer and Moderna signaled optimism for a resumption of international travel in 2021.

“Travel companies, the tourism boards are getting very busy to make sure we capture this pent-up demand when it comes,” Gnock Fah said.

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Hong Kong-Singapore ‘Travel Bubble’ To Launch On November 22

The “travel bubble” agreed between Hong Kong and Singapore will be opened on November 22, their governments said Wednesday, in a rare piece of good news for the pandemic-battered tourism industry.

A quota of 200 residents from each city will be able to travel on one daily flight to the other, Hong Kong’s commerce minister Edward Yau told a press conference.

Only those who have been in Hong Kong or Singapore for two weeks and tested negative for Covid-19 will be allowed to board, he added.

The travel corridor offers a glimpse into how places with less severe outbreaks might be able to safely restart some travel.

Passengers arriving in Hong Kong will have to test negative again at the airport to avoid quarantine, while those arriving in Singapore will have to download a contact-tracing app.

A quota of 200 residents from each city will be able to travel on one daily flight into the other A quota of 200 residents from each city will be able to travel on one daily flight into the other Photo: AFP / aaron tam

The daily flights will be operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

If either city reports a daily average of more than five new cases from untraceable sources over a week, the travel bubble will be suspended for two weeks, Yau said.

He added that if no spike in cases was reported, the flight quota between the two regional aviation hubs would be increased to two per day from each city from December 7.

Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung said the arrangements would be “as close at it gets to pre-Covid travel”.

Singapore is a major market for Hong Kong’s tourism industry with more than 450,000 visitor arrivals recorded in 2019, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Internet searches for travel-starved Hongkongers jumped more than four times after plans for the travel bubble were announced last month, leading to a spike of more than 50 percent in ticket fares, according to online travel firm Expedia.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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Here’s the Flight Schedule for Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble

(Bloomberg) — A flight bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore will open on Nov. 22, allowing travelers from either hub to visit without having to go through quarantine, provided they pass virus tests and meet other requirements.



a large passenger jet sitting on top of a building: An Airbus SE A320 passenger jet is prepared for boarding during media a preview of HK Express airline's "Flycation" flight experience at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Various carriers in the region have launched so-called flights to nowhere, catering to people still yearning to fly.


© Bloomberg
An Airbus SE A320 passenger jet is prepared for boarding during media a preview of HK Express airline’s “Flycation” flight experience at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Various carriers in the region have launched so-called flights to nowhere, catering to people still yearning to fly.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. will operate the flights. They’ll both fly the route on the opening day and then do a handful of flights over the subsequent week or so before eventually flying it on a daily basis from Dec. 7. A maximum of 200 people will be permitted on each flight.

RouteNov. 22Nov. 23-29Nov. 30-Dec. 6Dec. 7 onward

SQ890 SIN-HKG Sunday Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun Mon, Weds, Fri Daily
SQ891 HKG-SIN Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun Mon, Weds, Fri Daily
CX734 SIN-HKG Tues, Thurs, Sat Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun Daily
CX759 HKG-SIN Sunday Tues, Thurs, Sat Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun Daily

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Singapore Airlines said Wednesday it will use Airbus SE A350 aircraft for the route, first departing Changi Airport on Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. The flight on Nov. 23 will leave at 8 a.m., while from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4 it will leave at 7:35 a.m. and return from Hong Kong at 12:30 p.m.

The carrier’s Scoot unit will operate non-air travel bubble flights between the cities, it said in a statement. Customers with existing bookings who don’t meet air travel bubble requirements or are transiting and therefore not eligible will have the option of being rebooked on Scoot instead.

Those traveling on non-air travel bubble flights must meet the entry requirements of their destination, and are likely to have to serve a quarantine.

“This air travel bubble arrangement is an important step for both Singapore and Hong Kong as we rebuild from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and supports the ongoing recovery of the airline industry,” Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said.

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Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble could begin in November, Hong Kong finance secretary says

  • Hong Kong and Singapore in mid-October announced plans to allow leisure travel to resume without the need for quarantines. Instead, tourists would take a coronavirus test before departure.
  • Hong Kong is in talks with 10 other countries regarding travel bubbles, and discussions with Thailand and Japan are “more advanced,” said Financial Secretary Paul Chan.
  • Chan also weighed in on competition between Hong Kong and other Chinese cities such as Shenzhen.



a man standing in front of a television: A passenger wearing a facemask exiting the arrival hall at the Hong Kong International Airport terminal.


© Provided by CNBC
A passenger wearing a facemask exiting the arrival hall at the Hong Kong International Airport terminal.

SINGAPORE — The travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore could take effect within this month —and discussions are ongoing with other countries including Thailand and Japan, according to Hong Kong’s financial secretary Paul Chan.

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“We’re working hard with the Singaporean government,” said Chan. “The target is to launch this as soon as possible within November, and the earlier, the better.”

The two cities in mid-October announced plans to allow leisure travel to resume without the need for quarantines. Instead, tourists would take a coronavirus test before departure. Hong Kong may also require a second test after arrival.

Tourism and aviation have been hit hard by the pandemic this year. Singapore and Hong Kong also do not have domestic air travel markets to cushion the blow.

Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to tourists from countries where the coronavirus situation is under control such as New Zealand and Brunei.

Chan said Hong Kong is in talks with 10 other countries about allowing similar travel bubbles.

“For example, Thailand, Japan — these are the countries that we have more advanced discussions with,” he said, adding that the authorities are working “very hard” to expand the network of air travel bubbles with different jurisdictions.

“At the same time, we’re working very hard with the mainland authorities to try to revive the traveling between Hong Kong and mainland because, business wise, this is very important to speed up the recovery of our economy,” Chan said.

The city fell into recession last year after months of anti-government protests, and the Covid-19 outbreak dealt the economy another blow.

Still, when asked if Hong Kong might lose some of its shine to Shenzhen, the secretary said the financial hub has a “very unique competitive edge.”

Xi’s speech shows Hong Kong’s future ‘lies increasingly’ with Shenzhen: Chatham House

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Shenzhen celebrated 40 years as a special economic zone last month, and was given flexibility to pursue reforms in some areas, according to Reuters.

Chan said there’s a “complementary cooperation” between Hong Kong and other Chinese cities.

“There are areas that we are highly competitive and leading the way, but there are also other areas we can work with the neighboring cities to achieve the maximum synergistic effect, for example, innovation and technology,” he said.

“The way we see it is, in this process, we need to work together to leverage the best outcome for everyone concerned,” he continued. “But on the

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Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble May Have One Flight a Day

(Bloomberg) 



a plane flying over a body of water with a city in the background: An aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. takes off at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Cathay warned last month it is set to post a first-half net loss of about HK$9.9 billion ($1.3 billion) as the coronavirus decimates air travel, with the Hong Kong carrier flying less than 1% of its usual number of passengers in recent months.


© Bloomberg
An aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. takes off at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Cathay warned last month it is set to post a first-half net loss of about HK$9.9 billion ($1.3 billion) as the coronavirus decimates air travel, with the Hong Kong carrier flying less than 1% of its usual number of passengers in recent months.

The travel bubble for Hong Kong and Singapore could start with one daily flight between the two financial hubs, according to Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau.

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The number of dedicated flights under the agreement may change depending on the coronavirus situation in the cities, Yau said at a briefing Tuesday, without elaborating. The two governments are still working on the details of the plan, including the start date.

Singapore and Hong Kong said on Oct. 15 they planned to open their borders to one another for the first time in almost seven months, with quarantine replaced by coronavirus testing. Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said at the time that he hoped the bubble would start in weeks. Travelers must have been in Hong Kong or Singapore for 14 days before departure and will need to take mutually recognized Covid-19 tests.

Governments around the world have been trying to create travel bubbles to help revive their economies and aviation industries. Opening links is particularly important for places such as Hong Kong and Singapore because they rely so much on international connectivity and business.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s shares fell 1.4% Tuesday, their first loss in four trading days, while Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s slipped 0.3%.

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