By Albert Kuan
Hong Kong Enacts Entry Ban for Two More Carriers
For two years, Hong Kong’s strict travel restrictions have made flying into the city challenging and costly. The city instituted a zero-covid policy — banning flights from several countries and subjecting arrivals to compulsory hotel quarantines of two weeks. As thousands of new infections are now being reported daily in the city, the government responded with even tougher curbs on residents and bans on airlines for bringing in infected travelers.
Due to four travelers testing positive upon arrival between Feb. 13 to Feb. 19 after flying Scoot, who is the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong has banned all Scoot flights from flying to the city for two weeks. Scoot’s once-daily service was one of the last few remaining flights operating between the two cities.
A Scoot representative confirmed its once-daily flight to and from Hong Kong has been suspended until further notice.
In addition to flights from Singapore being paralyzed, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has also been banned from flying to Hong Kong from Feb. 21 to March 6. The ban was imposed after a traveler on a KLM flight tested positive on arrival in Hong Kong on Feb. 18. Two other travelers flying KLM also failed to comply with travel requirements.
Before Covid-19, the Hong Kong to Singapore route was one of the busiest in the world with multiple different carriers zipping back and forth between the two financial hubs each day. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways alone operated more than 250 scheduled flights a month in 2019.
Singapore Airlines also stopped accepting bookings to Hong Kong last week when the Hong Kong government blocked their flights on Feb. 16. The carrier has also been blocked for two weeks from flying to Hong Kong for the same reason.
The only remaining flight that will operate between Hong Kong and Singapore this month is an HK Express flight operating on Feb. 22. Cathay Pacific only operated one flight to and from Singapore in February. The next scheduled flight after that is a Cathay Pacific flight scheduled to depart next month on March 19.
Air travel in and out of Hong Kong has been nearly non-existent as the city becomes increasingly cut off. Hong Kong has banned flights from nine countries including the U.K. and U.S. as well as transit travel from everywhere except Taiwan and China. More than 7,500 new cases were reported this Monday and the government is now seeking support from China and considering tighter lockdown measures.