Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble could set global standard

Singapore (SIN) believes a potential air travel bubble (ATB) with Hong Kong (HKG) and its border restriction protocols and COVID-19 testing could be used as a reference point for the global aviation industry.

Singapore's transport ministry also hopes that its unilateral relaxation on quarantine restrictions with some countries will be a starting point for future ATBs.

“We're an ICAO council member and on the Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce and an active one, because we have such a huge stake in the aviation sector. We contribute in terms of our views, our suggested protocols suggested and what we are doing as a reference point for most of the world,” Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung told the Aviation Week Network.

“Ultimately, I think it's what we actively do that is probably most useful: our policies regarding a border opening, reciprocal green lanes, our protocols in opening up new unilaterally safe countries, and very importantly, our travel bubble with Hong Kong. And I think these are case studies that we should bring to ICAO for a wider discussion at some point.”

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam told local media that the ATB with SIN would be implemented sometime this month, as long as the pandemic remains under control.

Singapore has been progressive in lifting quarantine requirements with countries that have low case counts and infection rates that are on par or lower than Singapore’s, such as New Zealand, Australia and China, some of which are unilateral. Passengers from these countries can apply for a travel pass regardless of travel purpose.

Separately, the island state has established reciprocal green-lanes with six other countries for business and official travel.

Looking ahead, Ong believes a similar quarantine-free ATB can be established with countries such as as Brunei and Vietnam, although the priority now is to implement the Hong Kong ATB before an expansion of ATBs.

Watch Aviation Week Network's interview with Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung:

Photo credit: Changi Airport

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.