Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are both increasing flights to Australia, after Singapore and Hong Kong both re-opened their airports to transiting passengers. But both Singapore and Hong Kong remain closed to arriving tourists.
Singapore & Hong Kong transits are now possible
After both countries closed their borders, both Singapore and Hong Kong went a step further and banned passengers from transiting between international flights at their airports in late March 2020. This came around the same time as similar moves by Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates, where the key international flight hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are located.
Singapore welcomed back passengers in international transit on 2 June 2020. But passengers in transit won’t be allowed to mingle with passengers starting or ending their journey in Singapore, and will be held in a designated transit facility without access to lounges or duty-free stores during their Singapore stopover. Many lounges at Changi Airport remain closed, anyway.
As of 1 June 2020, passengers are also allowed to pass through Hong Kong in international transit once again. But passengers will be required to hold an onward boarding pass, having been checked through at their point of origin to their final destination. Transiting via Hong Kong to/from mainland China currently remains off-limits.
There is currently a ban on non-Hong Kong residents from entering the Special Administrative Region, which has just been extended until at least September. Singapore’s entry ban also remains in place indefinitely.
The United Arab Emirates is still banning tourist arrivals and most international transits, but passengers can currently transit through the UAE if they remain on board the plane. This is how Etihad Airways has been able to launch weekly flights to London from Melbourne, and now Sydney as well.
More international flight options with Singapore Airlines & Cathay Pacific
The loosening of transit restrictions in their respective home countries paves the way for Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific to resume additional flights to and from Australia.
Last month, Singapore Airlines operated just three weekly passenger flights between Sydney and Singapore. But from June, Singapore Airlines will reinstate limited service to Singapore from Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane as well. There will initially be one flight per week to Adelaide, 2 per week to Melbourne and 3 flights per week to Sydney. In addition, there will be a new 2x weekly Singapore-Sydney-Brisbane-Singapore flight with a triangle routing. In case you’re wondering, you cannot buy a ticket just from Sydney to Brisbane on this service.
All Singapore Airlines flights to/from Australia will be operated by Airbus A350XWB aircraft for the time being.
Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific is increasing frequency on the Sydney-Hong Kong route from twice-weekly to five times per week, and adding a thrice-weekly Melbourne-Hong Kong service. Both flights will be operated by Airbus A350-1000XWBs. Limited onward connections are available with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and North America.
Although there are still significantly fewer international flights to/from Australia than usual, there are at least a few more options now for those needing to travel internationally. Over the last few months, Qatar Airways has almost had a monopoly on international flights between Australia and the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Australians are still banned from leaving the country without special permission, and Australia’s borders remain closed to non-residents. While there are currently talks of international “travel bubbles”, the return of “normal” international air travel will be a slow and gradual process.