Hong Kong and Singapore airports will lift their bans on transit passengers from the start of June as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions which have stunted the economy and decimated air travel.
The moves will be especially welcomed by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, which rely on their respective home airports as transfer hubs for connecting flights more than destinations in their own right.
Hong Kong Airport to lift transit bans from June 1
Transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will “gradually resume” from June 1, city leader Carrie Lam confirmed at a press briefing earlier today.
“The epidemic has eased,” she said. “We are resuming daily activities in society and economy step by step.”
Hong Kong implemented a ban on all visitors to the city, and passengers in transit through Hong Kong International Airport, on March 24.
All arrivals at the airport are currently required to go to the nearby AsiaWorld Expo site for COVID-19 testing, before proceeding to their home for the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.
There’s been no advice as to if this practice will continue, nor what restrictions might be imposed on passengers in transit at the airport itself, although wearing masks may be required.
Cathay Pacific, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, has since April operated to “a skeleton schedule” of barely a dozen destinations served by just a handful of flights per week.
However, the airline plans aim to put a little flesh onto those bones with a slow but steady rebuild of its international network beginning June 21.
This will see Sydney, London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Vancouver boosted to five flights per week. Melbourne is set for three flights per week, along with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Mumbai and Delhi.
Cathay will also mount daily flights to Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, while its Asia-focussed Cathay Dragon arm is set for daily service to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore Changi Airport to lift transit bans from June 2
Travellers will once again be allowed to transit through Singapore’s Changi Airport from June 2, although in the short term, Singapore stopovers will be very different to what travellers are accustomed to.
Instead of browsing the duty-free shops or kicking back in the airline lounge , transit passengers will “remain in designated facilities in the transit area and not mix with other passengers whilst at Changi Airport,” said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore in announcing the relaxed restrictions overnight.
Airport staff will wear personal protective equipment when interacting with passengers, while existing precautionary measures, such as safe distancing and temperature checks for passengers and staff, will remain in place.
Singapore’s ban on transit passengers came into effect from Tuesday March 24, accompanied by a ban on short-term visitors to the island nation, after it recorded its first two deaths from Covid-19 complications.