SINGAPORE - Budget carrier Scoot will not be allowed to fly passengers from Singapore to Hong Kong between April 16 and 29, after two passengers from one of its flights earlier this month were found to have Covid-19.
Its temporary ban by the Hong Kong authorities follows that of parent carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is currently unable to fly passengers to the Chinese territory till April 17.
The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health in Hong Kong said in a statement on Thursday (April 15) that the Scoot flight TR980 flying into the city from Singapore on April 11 had two passengers confirmed to be infected with the Covid-19 virus.
It also said that one other passenger on the flight failed to comply with health requirements.
"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," it said.
Scoot confirmed in a separate statement that it has been asked to suspend its daily passenger service from Singapore, but said its passenger service from Hong Kong to Singapore will not be affected.
Scoot said the two passengers flagged by the Hong Kong authorities were transfer passengers who had valid negative pre-departure Covid-19 test results. But they tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival in Hong Kong.
A third transfer passenger on board the same flight also had negative pre-departure Covid-19 test results, and tested negative for the coronavirus in Hong Kong.
"However, this passenger's test and travel visa supporting documents were found to not fully meet Hong Kong's regulatory requirements," Scoot added.
Scoot said it will work with its ground handling agents to "reinforce our protocols and staff training in conducting document checks at our departure points" to ensure that its passengers comply with all regulatory requirements.
"For affected passengers booked on TR980 departing from April 16 onward, Scoot will provide rebooking where possible or offer a full refund," said the carrier.
"Scoot sincerely apologises to our customers for the inconvenience caused."
The ban on Scoot flying into Hong Kong will start just as a similar ban on SIA ends.
SIA was banned earlier this month after one of its transfer passengers tested positive for Covid-19. Three other transfer passengers on the same flight were found to have breached rules for entry.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said then that SIA had breached a trigger point set by Hong Kong, whereby airlines could face suspension.
In an earlier update this month by the Hong Kong's Health Department, the territory has barred airlines from landing in the city 23 times since August last year.
Both SIA and Scoot said in separate statements on Thursday that they will stop flying transfer passengers departing from Singapore to Hong Kong till further notice, due to new regulatory requirements in Hong Kong.
SIA will stop doing so from April 17, while Scoot will stop doing so from April 30.
The stricter rules in Hong Kong, which kicked in on April 14, mean that there is now a lower threshold before airlines are suspended from flying passengers to the city.
For example, a carrier operating a flight that has three passengers who are eventually confirmed to have Covid-19 by Hong Kong would be suspended. This is down from the initial threshold of five passengers.
In addition, a combination of one passenger infected with Covid-19 and a passenger with incorrect documents would also trigger a suspension under the new rules.
Both SIA and Scoot said their services from Hong Kong to Singapore remain unaffected. Passengers flying from Hong Kong will also be allowed to transfer through Changi Airport en-route to their final destinations.