Travellers hoping to fly on the Hong Kong-Singapore route this December can go back to cursing the pandemic. The much-anticipated quarantine-free travel bubble between the two cities has been delayed yet again&mdashthis time beyond 2021.
The first flight in the resumption of air travel between the Asian hubs was supposed to operate on November 22 under the arrangement. However, after a spurt in COVID-19 cases in the special Chinese city, authorities in both places decided to delay the operation of flights on the route.
The Hong Kong-Singapore route is one of the busiest in Asia and the suspension in air travel due to the pandemic has had a debilitating effect on the aviation of both cities. Talks of this air bubble&mdashwhich would do away with quarantining and instead only require flyers to test for COVID-19 before flying&mdashbegan after both cities were relatively successful in containing Coronavirus cases as against countries such as the US.
But a fresh surge in cases (that have now taken the mark to 6,500 from 5,389 as recorded on November 14) forced authorities to postpone the arrangement for at least two weeks (103 new cases were recorded on December 2). The date for the beginning of the resumption of air travel as part of this bubble was tentatively pushed to December 2020. However, with the situation only worsening, the authorities decided on a &ldquofurther deferral of the [air travel bubble] was taken in view of the severity of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong&rdquo, according to an official statement. According to the South China Morning Post, the city was registering an average of 16.1 cases of unknown origin daily.
It is worth noting that the terms of the arrangement always mandated that the deal would be called off if the pandemic got out of control in either city. The arrangement will be reviewed again in late December as to the next launch date for the air travel bubble between the major Asian transit centres. The success of this arrangement is also expected to have other tourism departments in the continent follow suit and revive travel and trade.