Hong Kong is lifting its UK travel ban, with the government citing a “stabilizing local epidemic situation and the relatively satisfactory vaccination rate in the UK and Ireland” as the two main reasons. With this comes news that British Airways will resume passenger services to Hong Kong this weekend.
The first passenger flight to Hong Kong since December 2020
When it comes to travel restrictions and COVID-19 precautions, Hong Kong has had some of the toughest – going as far as imposing two-week bans on airlines when arrivals test positive. British Airways was also affected by this policy in mid-December.
But it wasn’t an airline-specific ban that has since kept British Airways from resuming service to the Special Administrative Region. Rather, it was a government-imposed suspension on all passenger services from the UK that forced the carrier to stop accepting travelers. This was in response to the UK variant that had emerged.
According to Business Traveller, when BA operates its passenger flight on May 9th from London Heathrow, it will be the first since December 2020. While the carrier has been flying to Hong Kong on a fairly regular basis since February, these services only transported cargo. The carrier was also allowed to fly back to London with passengers departing Hong Kong.
‘Significant pent-up demand’ expected
The airline is predicting “significant pent-up demand among those keen to visit family and friends as restrictions are lifted.”
“We at British Airways can’t wait to welcome our customers onboard our flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong again, and are delighted to be able to reunite families and friends with their loved ones after such a long time apart.” – Noella Ferns, Head of Sales, British Airways via Business Traveller
For those with plans to return to Hong Kong, travelers can board flights only after obtaining a negative result for a COVID-19 test, with samples taken 72 hours prior to departure. Additionally, the government states that a confirmation of a 21-night room reservation in a designated quarantine hotel is also required.
Arrivals to Hong Kong are subject to the “test-and-hold” arrangement for obtaining a negative result at the airport. After this, they will undergo a 21-day compulsory quarantine in the designated quarantine hotel, “undergoing at least three tests during the period [with] compulsory testing on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong after completion of compulsory quarantine.”
The British Airways service to Hong Kong from London Heathrow will take the form of flight BA031. This flight has been operated by a Boeing 777-300 in recent times and is likely to continue as such.
The flight will depart London Heathrow at 16:15. An overnight service, the flight is set to touch down in Hong Kong at 11:15 the next day. Thus, the flight time till be about 12 hours.
Looking at the booking engine on BA’s website, it appears that this flight will be rather infrequent, operating initially on a twice-weekly basis on Sundays and Fridays. This will hopefully ramp up as conditions improve, but as always, is subject to change (for better or for worse).
Will you be traveling to Hong Kong from the UK in light of this service resumption? Share your stories with us by leaving a comment.