Singaporean budget carrier Scoot has been banned from landing in Hong Kong for two weeks after two passengers tested positive for COVID-19. The airline will be prohibited from operating flights from Singapore to Hong Kong from April 16th to April 29th.
Positive tests on April 11th flight
Scoot flight TR980 from Singapore to Hong Kong saw two infected passengers arrive in Hong Kong on April 11th. The two passengers, who possessed valid pre-departure COVID test results, tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Hong Kong. Another passenger was also found to be in breach of Hong Kong’s entry requirements.
In a statement, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health in Hong Kong confirmed the two positive cases and the subsequent flight ban,
“The (Department of Health) thus invoked the regulation to prohibit landing of passenger flights from Singapore operated by Scoot in Hong Kong from April 16 to 29.”
Additionally, a third passenger, who did not test positive for the virus, had “test and travel visa supporting documents found to not fully meet Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements.” This most likely involved a pre-departure COVID test from a clinic that does not meet Hong Kong’s stipulations.
This was the case with a Singapore Airlines flight earlier this month when three passengers were found to be in breach of Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements for possessing invalid pre-departure test results.
Scoot to offer re-booking or full refunds
In response to the ban, Scoot has reassured that “for affected passengers booked on TR980 departing from Apr 16 onwards, Scoot will provide re-booking where possible or offer a full refund.”
The airline will also need to tighten up its ground protocols to avoid getting another ban. Hong Kong can invoke 14-day flight bans under certain conditions, including five or more positive tests, or if a passenger fails to comply with ‘pandemic control measures.’ Scoot said in a statement,
“Scoot will work closely with our ground handling agents to reinforce our protocols and staff training in conducting document checks at our departure points, and to ensure that the passengers we carry are in compliance with all regulatory requirements.”
Parent company Singapore Airlines is also banned
Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, has joined its parent airline in being banned from Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines was given a two-week ban on April 3rd after a transit passenger tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, three passengers onboard an SIA flight were found to be in breach of entry requirements to Hong Kong. The three passengers had pre-departure test results, but they did not meet Hong Kong’s requirements.
Singapore Airlines’ ban will expire on the same day Scoot’s begins. Singapore and Hong Kong have been working on opening up a travel bubble to streamline travel between the two cities. According to Bloomberg,
“… both cities continue negotiations to open a travel bubble that would allow travelers to enter without going through mandatory quarantines.”
Do you think 14-day flight bans are too strict or necessary to curb the virus? Let us know your opinions in the comments.