Hong Kong-Singapore plans for the long-awaited air travel bubble launch bursts before seeing the daylight.
Singapore Minister for Transport, S Iswaran, and Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, agreed “not to pursue further discussions on the ATB”, the Singapore Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on August 19, 2021.
In a statement, the MOT confirmed that due to a different COVID-19 pandemic control management, both parties refused the idea of opening the air travel corridor between two cities. However, both Hong Kong and Singapore spokesmen emphasized that Asia’s two main business hubs will remain committed to facilitating connectivity.
“Singapore is 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,” read the MOT statement.
The Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, originally planned for May 26, 2021, was deferred days before its launch by mutual agreement between the two cities due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Singapore. This was the second attempt to launch the bubble, after the initial attempt on November 22, 2020, which did not come to fruition.
Abandoning the quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Hong Kong might shatter hopes to boost travel and ticket sales for their respective flag carriers, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), which are already suffering from low passenger traffic numbers in international air travel due to the ongoing crisis.