Singapore and Hong Kong push their travel bubble again, this time beyond 2020

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A closed departure hall at the terminal at Hong Kong International Airport.
Miguel Candela | Images SOPA | LightRocket via Getty Images
SINGAPORE – Singapore and Hong Kong have again delayed the start of their bilateral “travel bubble” – postponing the plan beyond 2020, authorities in both cities said on Tuesday.
The latest postponement follows an earlier decision to delay the launch of the air travel bubble for two weeks, after Hong Kong reported a resurgence of new cases of Covid-19. Inaugural flights under the arrangement – which initially allowed travelers not to be quarantined – were due to begin on November 22.

“Singapore and Hong Kong have re-examined the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong, and given that there are still many unrelated local cases, the two sides have decided to postpone the start of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble ( ATB) beyond December. 2020, ”the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) said in a statement.

The Singapore Aviation Authority and the Hong Kong government have said they will re-examine the deal in late December to decide on a new start date.

Since the travel bubble was first postponed, new Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong have continued to increase. The city reported 76 more cases on Monday – bringing its cumulative infections since the outbreak to 6,315, according to official data.

Meanwhile, Singapore appears to have kept its national outbreak under control, mainly reporting imported cases in recent weeks. Cumulative cases in the city reached 58,218 on Monday, according to data from its health ministry.

The Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble was first announced in October, as Asia’s two major business hubs sought to undo some of the economic damage the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted on their tourism and travel industries. ‘aviation.

The two cities do not have domestic air transport markets and their tourism and aviation industries rely heavily on international travel. Last year, Hong Kong recorded more than 453,000 visitor arrivals from Singapore, while Singapore welcomed 489,000 visitors from Hong Kong, according to official statistics from both sides.

The bilateral travel bubble will not bring back as many visitors, but Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung hailed the deal as “the first of its kind” that could help restore international travel.

– CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.

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