SINGAPORE - Tickets for flights from Singapore to Hong Kong were snapped up a day after the announcement of an air travel bubble between both places, which starts on Nov 22 and allows leisure travel.
Air tickets for one-way direct flights from Singapore to Hong Kong by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Cathay Pacific Airways from Nov 22 to the end of the month were sold out by 5.30pm on Thursday (Nov 12).
A check with Google Flights data about an hour earlier showed that it cost $994 for an SIA economy-class booking on Nov 30.
One-way direct flights from Hong Kong to Singapore were sold out at 8pm.
Noting the "positive response" for bookings since the announcement, Cathay Pacific told The Straits Times that seats for the flight from Hong Kong to Singapore departing on Nov 22 sold out within 24 hours after they were made available.
SIA said it has seen an increase in bookings since the announcement, but declined to reveal figures due to commercial sensitivity.
Both airlines are currently the only ones allowed to operate flights under the air travel bubble arrangement announced on Wednesday.
As of Thursday evening, one-way economy tickets from Singapore to Hong Kong in December cost between $397 and $586 for SIA flights.
For the same route, Cathay Pacific's economy tickets ranged from $347 to $648.
The air travel bubble provides for one flight a day into each city, with 200 passengers allowed per flight.
From Dec 7, this will be doubled to two flights a day into each city.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said travellers on these flights between Singapore and Hong Kong will take Covid-19 tests in lieu of quarantine or stay-home notices.
Travel services provider Trip.com on Thursday said searches on its booking platform for flights from Singapore to Hong Kong jumped by 200 per cent just three hours after the announcement. Searches for flights from Hong Kong to Singapore grew by 300 per cent.
Similarly, searches on travel booking platform Expedia for travel between Singapore and Hong Kong more than tripled after the announcement.
Hotel searches spiked as well.
Trip.com said the most-sought-after hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong were luxury and high-end ones, especially those offering discounts and flexible reservation policies.
Tour agencies like Dynasty Travel said the high demand for travel bubble flights might be due to travellers visiting their friends and family.
"For these travellers, price may not be a concern because they can finally see their loved ones without going through quarantine," said Ms Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel.
Mr Aaron Wong, 32, was one of 200 people who managed to book a seat on the inaugural flight to Hong Kong on Nov 22.
"If you want to travel for leisure, the only way is to go via the air bubble if you want to avoid being quarantined for weeks," said the 32-year-old founder of travel hacks site The Milelion.
For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.