Although it’s way too early to tell if we’re out of the Covid-19 woods yet, there are small signs of recovery in the aviation sector.
We’re seeing domestic flights resume in some countries, and following Singapore’s announcement that Changi would reopen to transit passengers from 2 June, Hong Kong has now decided to lift its ban on transit passengers from 1 June.
Hong Kong will allow transit passengers once more
On 25 March, Hong Kong announced a ban on transit passengers, as part of its efforts to control the spread of Covid-19. This has a drastic impact on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, which in April saw a 99.6% drop in passenger volumes.
Since then, Hong Kong has managed to get its infection numbers under control, and yesterday marked the 11th consecutive day without a new case. The country is taking steps to reopen businesses, and even “non-essential” things like karaoke lounges and nightclubs are set to open by the end of the month.
It’s quite likely that Hong Kong Airport will adopt similar precautionary measures as Changi though, in trying to separate transit passengers from airport staff and arriving passengers as much as possible. If you’re transiting through HKG, don’t expect to visit the lounge or duty free sections of the terminal.
What does this mean for us in Singapore?
Hong Kong’s lifting of the transit passenger ban is good news for us in Singapore too- it means more flight options.
As it is, Singapore Airlines is operating a bare-bones schedule out of Changi for June, with just 15 destinations and 312 flights scheduled for the month.
Cathay Pacific currently operates three flights a week between Singapore and Hong Kong…
… a schedule that (perhaps over optimistically) shows a return to daily service from 20 June…
…and then (definitely over optimistically), goes up to 9 flights a day from July.
Obviously, the July schedule won’t happen- Cathay Pacific (like Singapore Airlines) is simply taking things one month at a time, and we can expect to see some cancellations closer to the date.
But so long as there’s at least one flight between Singapore and Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific passengers from Singapore can connect to the following destinations (information courtesy of Routes Online):
|Hong Kong – Amsterdam eff 21JUN20 3 weekly A350-900XWB|
Hong Kong – Bangkok eff 01JUN20 3 weekly A330-300 (4 weekly from 24JUN20)
Hong Kong – Beijing Capital eff 22JUN20 4 weekly 777-300
Hong Kong – Delhi 2 weekly A330-300 (3 weekly from 22JUN20)
Hong Kong – Frankfurt eff 21JUN20 3 weekly A350-900XWB
Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City 6 weekly A350-900XWB (3 weekly from 01JUN20, 1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Jakarta 3 weekly A330-300 (1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – London Heathrow 2 weekly A350-1000XWB (5 weekly from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Los Angeles 2 weekly A350-1000XWB (5 weekly from 22JUN20)
Hong Kong – Manila 3 weekly A330-300 (1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Melbourne eff 24JUN20 4 weekly A350-900XWB
Hong Kong – Mumbai eff 22JUN20 3 weekly A330-300
Hong Kong – Osaka Kansai eff 21JUN20 1 daily A330-300
Hong Kong – San Francisco eff 22JUN20 3 weekly A350-900XWB
Hong Kong – Seoul Incheon eff 21JUN20 1 daily A330-300
Hong Kong – Shanghai Pu Dong eff 21JUN20 4 weekly 777-300
Hong Kong – Singapore 3 weekly A330-300 (1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Sydney 2 weekly A350-900XWB (5 weekly from 24JUN20)
Hong Kong – Taipei Taoyuan 3 weekly A330-300 (1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Tokyo Narita 3 weekly A330-300 (1 daily from 21JUN20)
Hong Kong – Vancouver 2 weekly A350-900XWB (5 weekly from 21JUN20)
This adds a lot of one-stop options out of Singapore, expanding the places we can reach in a world that’s suddenly grown a lot larger overnight.
That said, Singapore Airlines hasn’t unveiled their schedule for July yet, and it’s possible they’ll add additional options out of Changi. In fact, based on Scoot’s schedule for June, it looks like the plan is for the SIA group to progressively expand their network and scale up over the next few months.
All this can only be good news, insofar as it provides Singaporeans with additional options for (essential) travel.
Hong Kong Airport isn’t going to suddenly spring to life come 1 June, but this marks a small step in the long and arduous process of “returning to normal”. I imagine Cathay Pacific will be particularly relieved by this development too.
Does the lifting of the transit passenger ban in Hong Kong affect you?