SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) said on Monday (Apr 26) it welcomes the decision to relaunch the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong on May 26.
In a statement responding to the announcement, the national carrier said the move is an "important milestone" in its recovery and helps to establish confidence in the safe resumption of international air travel.
"Singapore Airlines strongly supports all efforts to open the Singapore air hub up in a safe and calibrated manner. We will continue to be nimble and flexible in adjusting our capacity to meet the demand for air travel," said the company.
SIA said its inaugural travel bubble flight to Hong Kong, SQ882, will depart on May 26. The first flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, SQ883, will depart on May 28.
Starting Jun 9, SIA will operate daily air travel bubble flights, with SQ882 flying out of Singapore at 8.40am and SQ883 departing Hong Kong at 2.25pm local time.
Its sister airline Scoot will operate daily non-travel bubble flights between Singapore and Hong Kong.
SIA customers with existing bookings between Singapore and Hong Kong will be notified if their flight has been designated as an air travel bubble flight.
Customers who do not meet the bubble requirements or are transit passengers departing from Hong Kong may opt to be re-accommodated onto a non-bubble flight operated by Scoot, where they will receive baggage allowance and meals on board.
READ: SIA and Scoot to stop carrying transit passengers from Singapore to Hong Kong when flight suspensions lift
Transit passengers travelling from Singapore to Hong Kong will not be re-accommodated onto a Scoot flight due to regulatory requirements. They may request a refund or to rebook their flight.
Those on the travel bubble flights for the month starting May 26 will be treated to a special in-flight menu, said SIA, featuring the two cities' popular local dishes such as carrot cake, nasi lemak, dim sum, soya sauce chicken noodles and lotus leaf rice with chicken.
Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific also said on Monday that it was ready to fly passengers on board its "two-way, all-purpose, quarantine-free" air travel bubble flights starting May 26.
The flights will be operated by pilots and cabin crew who have all been fully vaccinated, it said.
Cathay Pacific said its inaugural travel bubble flight CX759 from Hong Kong will depart on May 26 at 9.10am local time, while the first CX734 flight from Singapore will depart on May 27 at 2.45pm local time.
From May 27 to Jun 9, the flight schedule will be as follows:
Cathay Pacific will operate daily return flights to Singapore starting Jun 10.
TRAVEL BUBBLE RELAUNCH
The resumption of the travel bubble was announced by Singapore and Hong Kong on Monday, after it was deferred in November last year due to a spike in Hong Kong's COVID-19 cases.
Stricter conditions will be introduced for the bubble's resumption. This includes travellers having to remain in Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to departure, excluding any time spent in quarantine or stay-home notice.
READ: Air travel bubbles, more green lanes part of plans for Singapore to ‘revive’ Changi Air Hub amid COVID-19: Ong Ye Kung
The travel bubble will also be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases in either city increases to above five. It can only resume when the COVID-19 situation has stabilised.
Under the travel bubble, there are no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirements for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship. Visitors have to take pre-departure and on-arrival COVID-19 swab tests and travel on designated flights operated by SIA and Cathay Pacific.
Both cities will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation from now to May 26, and will proceed with the launch "if the situation continues to be steady and under control in both cities", Singapore's Transport Ministry said.