Demand for flights leaving Hong Kong is up as much as 306% on the same time last year as residents pack their bags amid on-and-off talk of mass Covid testing and lockdowns.
ForwardKeys, a Valencia, Spain-based travel data company, has observed a “steep rise” in outbound bookings from Jan. 4 to Mar. 7, with Singapore and Shanghai the most popular cities, according to data provided to Bloomberg.
The period starting Feb 8. saw the biggest jump in bookings, a time when Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam was flagging ever tighter Covid restrictions. Public gatherings were limited to two from four, hair salons were closed and stricter vaccine checks were required in shopping malls and supermarkets. Talks of mass lockdowns had also started to swirl early last month.
For the seven days commencing March 1, weekly bookings were up 113% year-on-year but still down 84% on pre-pandemic levels -- underscoring how far away a recovery in air travel is for Hong Kong. Singapore is the most easily accessible destination to vaccinated Hong Kong residents, while Shanghai is only open to Chinese citizens.
Hong Kong Airlines Ltd. has reduced services to twice weekly from seven, its website shows, while the total number of daily seats on flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai has been scaled back by 77% to just 408 as of Mar. 14 from Feb. 25, according to data from Cirium.
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