A long-awaited quarantine-free travel agreement between Hong Kong and Singapore due to begin on May 26 after several false starts may not go ahead due to a rise in coronavirus cases in Singapore.

Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said Friday there’s a “high chance” the so-called travel bubble might not proceed as scheduled, dealing another blow to a border-opening plan that was initially set to happen last November.

Hong Kong and Singapore have both taken strict measures to combat virus outbreaks that in terms of caseloads pale in comparison to other parts of the world: Hong Kong has reported a total of 11,817 cases and 210 deaths, while Singapore’s had about 63,000 cases — mostly in worker dormitories — and 31 deaths. Countries elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Australia and New Zealand, which recently launched a bilateral travel bubble, have kept virus cases low with stringent border controls.

Singapore is now trying to combat a growing virus outbreak, which includes a cluster at the city’s iconic Changi Airport. Dozens of cases have been linked to the airport, prompting the closure of two terminals and the Jewel complex.

Friday’s comments from Yau could dash the hopes of many people planning to fly between the two financial hubs for business and to reunite with friends and family for the first time in months. Even if the bubble does go ahead, visitors to Singapore will likely encounter tighter social-distancing restrictions given the outbreak there.

The bubble was due to start last November but was shelved then because of an outbreak in Hong Kong.

“We hope to give a more perfect answer early next week as to when and the bubble arrangement would be launched or otherwise,” Yau said at a briefing Friday following a conversation with his counterparts in Singapore.

“The Singapore minister told me that there might be a high chance that the bubble arrangement may not be able to resume under the agreed mechanism as we scheduled on May 26,” Yau said, referring to Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kong, who is moving on from his role this weekend following a cabinet reshuffle. “We will be reviewing the situation particularly in the next couple of days,” Yau said.

Singapore Airlines Ltd.was down 2.5% at 1:03 p.m., while Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. was little changed. The two carriers are scheduled to operate flights in the travel bubble.

Bubble Plan Details
Eligibility

People in Hong Kong and Singapore, irrespective of nationality

No travel to other places in the 14 days prior to departure

Testing Negative result collected within 72 hours of flying
Vaccine Hong Kong residents need to finish two vaccine doses at least 14 days before flight. Exceptions include under 16s, people who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons, passengers using non-Hong Kong travel documents and travelers who have been in Hong Kong less than 90 days before departure
Flight arrangements May 26 to June 9, one daily flight with 200

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Before vaccines were created for Covid-19, and long before talks of vaccine passports entered the discourse surrounding travel, the most popular solution being discussed in the travel world to the pandemic-related international travel question was the travel bubble, or travel corridor. Airlines have recently been pushing for a travel corridor between the US and the UK, but that plan now looks like it will fail to take off, following the US handing the UK a Level 4 travel advisory. Here’s everything you need to know about that story.

US – UK Travel Bubble – What Travelers Need To Know

Agreements that would see smoother, streamlined travel between the two or more countries involved, some travel bubbles have become successes and beacons of hope, such as the one between New Zealand and Australia which allows travelers to move between the two countries without having to quarantine upon arrival. Some, on the other hand, have failed to even get started.

us uk flags

Prominent airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are two of the airlines leading the charge for the establishment of a travel corridor between the two countries. Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Shai Weiss highlighted the opportunity for a travel bubble to be made, stating that he felt the proposed May 17th date for the UK restarting international travel would provide enough time for conditions to be met. However, recent developments suggest that the proposed US-UK travel bubble could be set to burst.

uk big ben

On April 20th, the US Department of State issued the UK with a Level 4 travel advisory. The US travel advisory system is designed to warn American travelers of the risks associated with traveling to particular destinations. By designating the UK as a Level 4 country, it has handed the country its strictest possible level, which warns travelers “Do Not Travel”.

US UK window

Reports in the US had suggested that President Biden had been considering removing the travel ban in May due to the encouraging start that both countries have made towards vaccinating the public. Just this week in the UK, Transport Minister Grant Schapps revealed at a seminar that he was working towards establishing a travel corridor between the two countries with officials in the US.  

uk us flags

Whilst the travel corridor isn’t officially dead and buried yet, the news is bound to be a blow to the scores of Americans and British travelers who had looked to mark the end of their lockdown with a trip across the pond. The US is the most popular destination for British travelers outside of Europe, whilst the UK is the third-most visited country for American travelers. It is also sure to have a negative financial impact; analysis suggests that delaying travel between the two countries until September could cost $76 billion in trade, and $4 billion in tourism GDP.

Other Level 4 Warnings – Information For Travelers

The United Kingdom wasn’t the only country designated as a Level 4 country in the past week. More

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330neo or A330-900 aircraft with neo engine option of the European plane manufacturer, as seen on final approach for landing at Amsterdam Schiphol AMS EHAM International airport after a transatlantic long haul flight.

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Hoping to take a European vacation this summer? You may be out of luck.

Borders in much of Europe have been closed to most U.S. citizens and vice versa for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Airline executives on Thursday said they didn’t expect them to open in time for the peak summer season.

Travel industry leaders have pressed the Biden administration for a plan to reopen borders, including standards for health documentation such as proof of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on a quarterly call that the company is focused on lifting restrictions that have hindered travel between the U.S. and U.K. but that other popular tourist destinations may take longer.

The White House didn’t immediately comment.

Britain this week eased its lockdown restrictions, allowing pubs, hairdressers and retail shops to reopen. France and Italy, on the other hand, reinstated temporary lockdowns last month to curb new Covid-19 infections, and vaccine distribution has been slow throughout Europe.

“When you think about other parts of Europe, there may be some occasional markets open this summer based on southern Mediterranean leisure traffic that people will be interested in,” Bastian said on the call. “But I don’t think you’re going to see continental Europe opened in any meaningful way till later in the year. We’ll probably unfortunately miss much of the summer for most of continental Europe.”

Delta and rivals such as American Airlines and United Airlines have said domestic travel has rebounded sharply from the depths of the pandemic, but international travel, still facing a web of entry restrictions and a lag in vaccinations, remains weak.

Delta on Thursday said its domestic passenger revenue dropped 66% to $2.3 billion in the first quarter compared with the same period of 2019, but trans-Atlantic revenue was 87% less at $142 million while trans-Pacific was off 89% at $62 million.

Naples, Italy, vs. Naples, Florida

U.S. carriers have refocused their once-sprawling global networks toward domestic destinations, particularly those that offer outdoor attractions such as beaches and mountains. Airlines have added service to tourist hotspots in Florida, Wyoming and Montana. They have also seen upticks in demand to beach destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

American Airlines on Wednesday, for example, announced it would bring its summer domestic schedule to nearly the same levels as it operated in 2019.

Brian Znotins, American Airlines’ vice president of network planning, told CNBC that demand for European summer vacations will be tough to generate even if borders open up in the coming season.

“Usually a European vacation is planned months in advance,” he said. “So people today if they’re looking to take a trip this summer, which a lot of people are, they don’t feel