As quarantines remain in place and Hong Kong adds more travel bans, the city has recorded its lowest ever arrival total. Only 95 passengers arrived at Hong Kong International Airport last Monday. This figure is a far cry from the usual hundreds of thousands who would have arrived in pre-pandemic times.
Hong Kong currently has some of the strictest entry conditions of any territory globally. Only passport holders and residents are allowed to return, and everyone must submit to a 21-day hotel quarantine on arrival. While the quarantine period is shorter for travelers from some countries, most will need to spend three weeks in a hotel. Additionally, travelers must submit a negative test at least three days before flying.
However, the restrictions do not end there. Hong Kong has also been quick to ban countries with high case counts or new variants of the virus. Currently, travelers from Brazil, Ireland, Nepal, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom are all banned from flying to Hong Kong altogether. This applies to anyone who has been in the country for more than two hours in the last 21 days.
However, it is not only passenger entry that is restricted. Hong Kong is also one of the very few countries implementing crew quarantines. All crew living in the city must undergo a 14-day quarantine after arrival, an extreme step to cut imported infections. This has forced Cathay Pacific to cut its scheduled capacity by 90% and only serve the most essential of routes.
Considering these restrictions, it is little surprise that passenger arrivals have fallen at Hong Kong International Airport. Monday, 26th April, saw only 95 passengers enter the city, a steep decline even compared to others in the same month. According to Webb-site, this was the lowest figure ever on record for the airport, and the only time arrival entered double digits.
Luckily, traffic has picked up slightly since this all-time low. Yesterday saw 769 travelers arrive in Hong Kong, the highest figure since early January. Notably, the number of passengers leaving the city outstrips arrivals on most days.
Considering the city’s entry restrictions have only grown tighter in the last few months, expect to see low numbers for the time being. However, there could be one way to turn this tide of poor figures over the last year.
Singapore-HK travel bubble
Last Monday (the same day we saw 95 arrivals), Hong Kong and Singapore set a date for their long-awaited travel bubble. Assuming all conditions are met, the bubble will commence on May 26th. If successful, we can expect daily passenger numbers to increase by 200 at first and 400 later (200 passengers per flight are allowed, with one daily flight at the start and two from mid-June).
Sadly, there is some bad news on the bubble front. Both Singapore and Hong Kong have seen a sudden rise in cases in the last week due to new clusters or variants. This could jeopardize the conditions of starting the bubble. However, both cities have proven to be efficient at containing COVID-19 outbreaks and could well do so in the next three weeks as well.
What do you think about Hong Kong’s falling arrivals? When will figures start to pick up once again? Let us know in the comments!