HONG KONG (AP) — Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed the start of an air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, citing a spike in infections in the Chinese territory as a “sober reminder” of risks to public health.
The travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.
The arrangement is meant to allow travelers between the two cities to enter without quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.
“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”
Under the initial agreement, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is nearly four, prompting Yau and Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, to postpone the inaugural flight.
Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong
By ZEN SOO Associated Press
November 21, 2020, 10:08 AM
• 2 min read
HONG KONG — Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.
The air travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.
The arrangement is meant to allow visitors between the two cities to travel without having to serve a quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.
“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also making sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”
Under the initial agreement, the air travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeds five on a seven-day moving average. The current average of unlinked cases in Hong Kong is nearly four.
Although the average of five had not been reached in Hong Kong, the bubble was suspended after Yau and Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, held discussions on Saturday.
Prior to the postponement, Singapore said Saturday morning that travelers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble would be required to take a coronavirus test on arrival. Originally, only people landing in Hong Kong were to be required to be tested.
Ong said in a Facebook post Saturday that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us.”
“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint,” Ong wrote.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The opening of Asia’s first “travel bubble” allowing tourism without quarantines since the pandemic hit has sparked a surge in searches and bookings for travel between Singapore and Hong Kong, stirring hopes the model could be rolled out more broadly.
Some of the first flights between the two cities starting Nov. 22 on Singapore Airlines Ltd and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd have already sold out, amid a quota of 200 daily travellers that will rise to 400 on Dec. 7. In the three hours after details were released on Wednesday, flight searches for Hong Kong to Singapore grew by 300%, followed by a 200% increase in Singapore hotel searches, according to Trip.com Group Ltd data.
“I think in the short term, people who want to travel are, like, shaking in their pants right now to sign up to travel,” said Jameson Wong, APAC director of travel data firm ForwardKeys. “Christmas has been popular (for bookings), as offices will be closed.”
Airfares between the cities have risen by about HK$1,000 ($128.96), or 35%, since the travel bubble was announced last month, Daiwa analyst Kelvin Lau said in a note to clients.
One way Singapore-Hong Kong tickets range from S$618 ($458) to S$1,028 on Singapore Airlines in December, according to a check of its website on Thursday.
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Travellers will need to take and pay for two to three COVID-19 tests depending on the duration of their stay, in an agreement that Lau said could be a model for a broader re-opening of travel within Asia.
International passenger traffic fell by 96.4% in September compared with last year at airlines in the region, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have been among the hardest hit because they lack domestic aviation markets, and both carriers have cut thousands of jobs.
International Air Transport Association Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific Conrad Clifford said the bubble, although small, was a step in the right direction to reboot international travel.
“We look forward to seeing Hong Kong and Singapore expand this arrangement with other destinations, and for other governments to adopt a similar approach,” he said in a statement.
($1 = 7.7541 Hong Kong dollars)
($1 = 1.3488 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle)
(Bloomberg) — A travel bubble linking Singapore and Hong Kong will begin operating on Nov. 22. The bubble, which was announced last month, will let travelers move between the two regions with testing replacing quarantine.
Japan recorded the second-highest number of cases since the summer surge, while South Korea saw its biggest gain in infections in almost three weeks. India added more than 44,000 cases, while Mongolia returned to lockdown for three days after two people were infected. Meanwhile, Taiwan approved a visit without quarantine from a small group of U.S. tech company officials, the first easing of its strict controls.
The coronavirus is also roaring back in U.S. cities after months of crisis centered in more rural areas, with hospitalization in the country reaching a record. Cities from Newark to San Francisco announced new restrictions to help cope with the surge, as cases in the U.S. top 1 million in the first 10 days of November alone.
Global Tracker: Cases near 51.4 million; deaths top 1.27 millionU.S. Hot Spots: Covid back in cities after months as rural problemBrazil’s halting of China’s vaccine baffles local researchersNeed to keep Pfizer’s shot in deep-freeze presents challengeWhere things stand in the race for a vaccine: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope
Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.
Celltrion Hopes to Submit Covid Drug Application by Year-End (12:42 p.m. HK)
Shares in South Korea’s Celltrion jumped after Chairman Seo Jung-Jin said the company plans to apply for sales approval for the firm’s Covid-19 drug as early as the end of the year after completing a phase 2 clinical trial. Seo says he hopes authorities grant fast-track approval for the drug.
Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble to Begin Nov. 22 (10:03 a.m. HK)
A travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will begin on Nov. 22, authorities announced, with daily service by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. from Dec. 7. The bubble will be limited to 200 passengers per flight, and will completely replace the need for quarantine. Singapore Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said it was the first bubble of its type in the world, and may be used as a template for other countries, if successful.
Here’s the flight schedule for the travel bubble.
Hong Kong to Exempt Some Arrivals From Quarantine (9:55 a.m. HK)
Hong Kong will exempt some of its residents arriving from Guangdong from a 14-day quarantine beginning Nov. 23, the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said at a briefing.
Mongolia in Three-Day Lockdown; Taiwan Eases (9:50 a.m. HK)
Mongolia returned to lockdown for three days on Wednesday, after two people were diagnosed with Covid-19. The country will ban flights into the country as well as all travel in and out of the capital Ulaanbaatar. Nearly all of Mongolia’s 374 confirmed cases since March have been detected in
(Bloomberg) — The cost of air tickets between two major Asian financial hubs jumped within 24 hours of Singapore and Hong Kong unveiling plans for a travel bubble that wouldn’t require people to quarantine upon arrival.
The cheapest price for a Singapore Airlines Ltd. return economy seat to Hong Kong was S$558 ($410) Friday morning up until the end of December, versus around S$400 Thursday afternoon as the news was announced, the airline’s website showed. Return business-class fares rose about HK$5,000 ($645) to HK$19,000. Cheaper flights were still available on travel websites including Skyscanner Ltd.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the flag carriers of Singapore and Hong Kong especially hard because they don’t have any domestic market to fall back on. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, around 1 million trips were made between the two regional centers every year, data from the Singapore and Hong Kong tourism boards show.
Hong Kong-listed Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. closed up 6.1% on Thursday and rose as much as 6.4% Friday as investors digested the news. The agreement could lift Cathay’s monthly revenue by HK$90 million and reduce cash burn by as much as 6%, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts James Teo and Chris Muckensturm, who assume revenue on the Hong Kong-Singapore route amounted to about 3% of Cathay’s total pre-pandemic.
Singapore Airlines, which rose as much as 1.4% Friday, could see a S$15 million boost to monthly revenue and 6% reduction in cash burn, Teo and Muckensturm said. The route also made up about 3% of its revenue before Covid-19, they said.
The number of flights between Hong Kong and Singapore slumped because of the virus, with only 54 round trips filed for October, down 90% from a year earlier, according to the consultancy arm of aviation analytics company Cirium.
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“Although the travel bubble will potentially facilitate increase of services by Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Scoot (who have continued to operate minimal services on the route through 2020), demand is expected to remain depressed in the near-term as passenger confidence remains low,” said Herman Tse, an analyst with Ascend by Cirium.
Still, the bubble plan has encouraged some to book flights or make plans to travel. Singapore-based Clarence Foo, who works for APAC Realty Ltd. unit ERA, said four Chinese nationals with Hong Kong residency had told him they planned to fly down to the city-state and purchase luxury apartments.
“They’re constantly asking about the property market – whether it’s recovering and whether prices are coming up,” Foo said. “Some had planned to come down earlier