This is the fifth time Air India's flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the pathogen after arrival.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said the postponement was the "responsible way" forward, the Associated Press reported. "We will review within two weeks on the new launch date and update again", Ong said.
"I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint", he wrote.
Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a "sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us".
Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.
Under the terms of the arrangement, travel will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked Covid-19 cases is more than five in either city. This will trigger a two-day notice period, after which suspension will come into effect, the authority added.
The launch of the ATB will go ahead as planned on Sunday despite the rise in Hong Kong's coronavirus cases, said the CAAS in a media release on November 21, adding that health authorities of both sides are in close contact and monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong. As per the country's protocol, all global passengers are supposed to go through COVID-19 test on landing at the airport.
SIA and Cathay Pacific said customers may request a full refund for their flights with cancellation fees waived.
Travelers under the ATB from Hong Kong will only be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test and obtain a negative test result before departing for Singapore on the basis of the previous rules.
The decision to put the travel bubble on hold comes as a huge blow to both Hong Kong and Singapore - as well as other countries looking to bolster their economies with similar passages. But they will have to serve a seven-day stay-home notice.
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