Suspension of SIA’s flights to HK has no impact on travel bubble talks: Ong Ye Kung

A Singapore Airlines plane is parked besides a Scoot passenger plane on the terminal tarmac at Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 15, 2021. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A Singapore Airlines plane parked at Changi International Airport on 15 March 2021. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The suspension of Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) flights to Hong Kong from the city-state does not affect the ongoing talks to establish an air travel bubble between the two destinations, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (5 April).

Speaking in Parliament, Ong said that the Hong Kong civil civil aviation authorities have set in place “very transparent criteria” regarding flights to the Chinese territory. He noted that there were 23 cases of similar suspension in effect in Hong Kong before the latest incident involving SIA.

The Hong Kong government said last Friday that SIA had been prohibited from landing any passenger flights in Hong Kong from Singapore from 3 April to 16 April after a passenger on an SIA flight to the territory was confirmed to have COVID-19 and three others had flouted pandemic-related rules.

Singapore is exploring with several countries and regions, including Australia, on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, Ong told the House.

In response to a question by West Coast GRC Member of Parliament Ang Wei Neng, Ong said Singapore is talking to “many” countries and regions on the establishment of air travel bubbles.

Ong said that an air travel bubble will not carry transit passengers as it operates on the basis that flights within the bubble carry only origin destination passengers.

One aspect of such talks is the establishment of mutually recognised vaccination certificates and that such certificates have to be verifiable and tamper-proof, Ong said.

“I actually don't quite like the term vaccination passports. It gives you the impression like we carry a passport, we can go anywhere. It doesn't work like that,” he added.

In addition to vaccination certificates, the authorities will also discuss related issues such as shorter quarantine periods, fewer tests and level of safety in the different regions.

“From time to time, you will see public statements being made. But actually behind the scenes, a lot of work is going on. And when there are significant progress and significant things to announce, we will do so and inform the public,” Ong said.

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