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Singapore-Hong Kong ATB will not proceed until 2021

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore officially announced yesterday (1 Dec 2020) that the Air Travel Bubble will be further delayed

Singapore and Hong Kong have further reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong, and given that local unlinked cases are still high, both parties have decided to defer the commencement of the Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) to beyond December 2020. The exact start date of the ATB arrangement will be reviewed in late December.

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, 1 December 2020

Second deferment

The ATB was originally scheduled to launch on 22 Nov 2020. However, Hong Kong started to see a new wave of Covid-19 cases, and at the eleventh hour, authorities from both countries announced late on eve of the inaugural flights that the ATB will be postponed by two weeks, with details to be announced this week.

Fast forward two weeks later, we are now looking at an early 2021 launch, given that the cases in Hong Kong remain high, with the seven-day average of unlinked cases hovering above 15.

Cancellation policies

If you’re already booked on one of Singapore Airlines’ or Cathay Pacific’s ATB flights, both airlines now offer a full refund with all fees waived for affected customers. Alternatively, you can also rebook a different date for no fee (fare difference may apply).

Singapore Airlines customers who no longer wish to travel on the ATB flights can request for a refund, or rebook their flights through SIA’s Assistance Request form. Any refunds will be accorded to the passengers’ original mode of payment.

For Cathay Pacific customers, they may request for full refund, exchange the value of the ticket towards Cathay Credits, or rebook the flights free of charge. Affected customers will be preliminarily rebooked on non-ATB flights, so be sure to check your email or contact your travel agent for next steps.

Final thoughts

This is not completely unexpected, to be honest. Most countries with a new wave of cases often see weeks go past before the cases resolve. For Hong Kong, two weeks to resolve the fresh outbreak would have been unrealistic, and would have been risk and irresponsible on the authorities’ part if they had allowed the flights to go on.

Seems like everyone’s going to spend New Year in their home countries!

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