Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said in a Monday statement that the city-state had agreed with Hong Kong to start an air travel bubble between the two places on May 26.
It will be done “cautiously” with one flight per day in each direction, and capped at 200 passengers per flight, for at least the first two weeks.
Singapore is home to two casino resorts: Resorts World Sentosa, run by Genting Singapore Ltd; and Marina Bay Sands, run by a unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Las Vegas Sands’ chairman and chief executive, Robert Goldstein, said last week it was “hard to see Singapore return to pre-pandemic levels this year,” as that market would need to see international travel recover. “Not having foreign players, is very hurtful [to the business],” stated Mr Goldstein. He was speaking during the group’s first-quarter earnings call.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities LLC had said in a late-February note on a planned expansion of Resorts World Sentosa, that the earnings outlook for the complex remained “muted until international travel resumes”.
Under the arrangement now announced, passengers from both sides have to be tested negative for Covid-19 before they can board any of the direct flights. People from Hong Kong travelling to Singapore must also be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before taking such a flight.
A proposal to start an air travel bubble in November last year had to be deferred to this year, the Hong Kong authorities had said on December 1. That was due to Hong Kong’s Covid-19 infection situation at that time.
The Singapore ministry said in its Monday press release: “In the meantime, both parties have reviewed the arrangements and made several improvements to the agreement.”
It added: “This includes stricter conditions for resumption of the air travel bubble, should it be suspended due to new Covid-19 community clusters in either city.”
The announcement from Singapore said the volume of travellers would be “capped at 200 passengers on each flight for the first two weeks,” with a “review” of the numbers “thereafter”.
Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Transport, was cited in the document as saying: “I am happy that Hong Kong got the Covid-19 situation under control.”
Mr Ong added: “Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly.”
Edward Yau Tang-wah, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, was also cited in the communication as saying the goal with the initiative was “striking a right balance between public health and travel convenience so that the public will feel assured”.
Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection said in a Monday statement that it was investigating four additional Covid-19 cases, “all of which are imported”.
A total of 155 Covid-19 cases had been recorded in the prior 14 days, including 37 local cases, of which 17 had an “unknown” source of infection.
As of Monday, Hong Kong had 11,741 active cases. Singapore had 314 active cases as of Sunday, according to the city-state’s Ministry of Health.
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